Apprenticeship levy can transform training but more awareness is needed
As National Apprenticeship Week begins Louise Harris, managing director of Liverpool-based Alder Training, now part of the Regenda Group, explains how local firms can benefit from the levy
Introduced in April 2017, the Government’s flagship apprenticeship levy was designed to increase employer investment in workforce skills.
But with official figures showing that there is yet to be an increase in the numbers of people being trained, there is still work to be done to get more apprentices within our workforce.
Lack of understanding
One of the major hurdles the levy has faced is a lack of understanding. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s ‘early impact of the apprenticeship levy’ report, published in January 2018, found that 22% of employers did not know if they were liable to pay the levy or not, while 19% did not expect to make use of the scheme.
As managing director of Alder Training, one of the region’s largest training providers, I have been working closely with our partners to promote the levy and its benefits.
In its simplest terms, the levy requires public and private sector companies with a payroll bill of more than £3m to contribute the equivalent of 0.5% to the government. Organisations, can then draw upon these funds to pay for apprenticeship training for new or existing staff.
The introduction of the apprenticeship standards also ensures courses are better suited to meet the needs of employer’s. While that does mean that apprenticeship training is more expensive, employers are getting a much higher skilled employee then before, meaning less additional investment.
We are currently working with one large organisation to support the delivery of their customer focus strategy by up skilling contact centre staff. We are also developing a training programme for all new customer service based employees.
Once fully invested, the organisation will only need to pay 10% towards the delivery of the qualification thanks to the levy.
SMEs account for 99.9% of private sector business in the UK and employ 16.1m people. If the apprenticeship levy is going to succeed, it is crucial that take up in this sector is high.
Currently, Alder Training works with more than 350 SMEs across the city region and increasing this number is one of our key priorities.
Again, improving knowledge is key. Non-levy paying employers can benefit from the government ‘co-investing’ 90% of the cost of training an apprentice, while businesses with under 50 employees won’t pay anything if they employ apprentices under the age of 19.
It makes more than just financial sense
Employing an apprentice can be hugely beneficial to an organisation in many ways. Apprentices bring fresh skills and talent into the workforce, and this can help bring out new ideas and ways of working.
Training providers such as Alder Training will handle all the recruitment of candidates, saving organisations on recruitment costs.
Exploring new sectors
We have hugely ambitious plans for growth since joining the Regenda Group, specifically around developing training programmes for different sectors.
The LCR Future Housing Workforce is a pilot programme to help combat the difficulties housing organisations face when recruiting at different levels of skills and experience. In the North West, housing organisations have a combined workforce of around 7,000, often employed apprentices.
Having joined Alder Training from a housing background, I know that developing skills in the sector is a real opportunity that we can support for the region.
We are working towards Chartered Institute of Housing accreditation and have seconded a specialist team from Regenda Homes to support the project.