Apprenticeships Levy: be prepared for the training revolution!

Lancashire’s business leaders have been urged to get themselves fully prepared in order to take advantage of massive changes to the way training and apprenticeships are funded.

Planning will be vital but experts also stress that some of the detail about the new levy scheme has yet to be confirmed by the government.

They have been organised by Lancashire Business View in partnership with the Lancashire Work Based Learning Executive Forum, the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership and The Lancashire Colleges, to help businesses understand what it means for them.

The event also heard that many UK businesses were still in the dark about the levy, with recent research by British Chambers of Commerce highlighting the fact 39 per cent of firms still had no understanding of it.

She said: “It’s about how you can take advantage and look at this as an opportunity to really expand your apprenticeship programme or, if you are starting from the beginning to really develop high quality and exciting apprenticeship programmes.”

These businesses will pay 0.5 per cent of their payroll costs to the HMRC on a monthly basis, after an initial £15,000 allowance.

Businesses that don’t spend their levy within 18 months will lose the cash form their account as it goes into a central pot.

Paula asked businesses to consider a series of questions, including: “Are your finance teams engaged with this? Are Higher Apprenticeships an opportunity?”

  • Develop a people plan
  • Review current training programmes and where occupations can be mapped to apprenticeships
  • Decide which programmes to deliver
  • Decide how to deliver an apprenticeship programme
  • Ensure your readiness to deliver

Karl Patterson, group HR manager, The Senator Group"We are struggling to see any benefits currently. Whatever way you cut and dice it, £135,000 is what we are going to have to pay out next year. "When it comes to 2017 budgeting it is how we sell this to the business; how are we going to spend £135,000 on apprentices? "If we see we can take strategic decisions about areas where we can bring in apprentices, at what level, and how we balance that with our spend - and can see the cost benefits there - that will help us."

Julie Dix, people development and training coordinator, Silentnight

"The challenge for me is finding out how much each apprentice framework or standard is going to cost, how long that is going to be delivered over and how much money is going to be coming out of our levy pot."

"There is not enough access to information right at the moment. We’ve already gone through the process we do every year of looking at where the skills gaps are and where we need to bring in an apprentice. That side is already in place."

Dr Michele Lawty-Jones, director Lancashire Skills and Employment Hub

"We have got 73,000 employees in Lancashire in manufacturing and engineering. Looking at some projections, from 2012-2022 around 21,000 are due to retire.

"Having the end assessment carried out by a third party is really useful to ensure we are driving up quality and making a difference in terms of the individual undertaking the apprenticeship."

John Cramphorn, JTL North West regional manager, Lancashire Work Based Learning Executive Forum

"Apprenticeships is a successful brand; it has worked for many, many years. It has been developed further by employers using your standards. You are in the driving seat. Standards are being driven by employers.

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