Businesses gearing up for Apprenticeship Levy challenges and opportunities

By Dean

18 Oct 2016

Business leaders from central Lancashire came together at Brockholes Conference Centre to share ideas and best practice in advance of the government’s flagship training programme, the Apprenticeship Levy.

The Apprenticeship Levy, due to be introduced in April 2017, will usher in big changes to the way training and apprenticeships are funded.

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 audience heard the levy will affect businesses with a payroll in excess of £3m, the equivalent of around 150 employees and 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.

What the panel said:

Paul Holme, Lancashire Enterprise Partnership

"We currently have skills shortages which are only going to get worse in the future both because of economic growth, priorities, industrial strategies and industrial development.

None of us yet know the implications of Brexit which also causes a potential for future skills shortages.

The initial challenge lies within late systems and late development of policy which is a challenge in getting things up and ready for early next year.

Lisa Bloomfield, Lancashire Work Based Learning Executive Forum

There are so many different sectors and levels available and opportunities for employers to create their own standards if they don’t currently exist enabling you to meet the particular roles you have within your organisation.

Martin Shackleton, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust

The main challenges are overcoming the perceptions. There’s the perception that this is a stealth tax brought in by the government in order to fund training, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There’s a perception that apprenticeships are 16 and 17 year olds coming out of colleges when in fact our current oldest apprentice is approaching his 75th birthday.

However, while it is a lot of money it’s an opportunity for investment in the total workforce. It is beneficial to every member of the workforce without pay grade limitations enabling employees to progress their careers.

So it is a real opportunity to take this forward and invest in our staff and make sure we have the workforce we need for the future."

Gemma Kennedy, WEC Group

"At WEC we are well known for having a good apprentice academy, taking on 20-plus apprentices every year, so for us we see this as an extra tax element. We are however going to gain a little extra visibility over the training that is going to be offered. At the moment the funding and training is all provided through the colleges, but with the Apprenticeship Levy we are now going to have more say and involvement.

All the funding that was done through the college we now have to take on ourselves and this is a lot of extra work. Another challenge for us personally is the competition we will now have from other companies offering apprenticeships."

Howard Deighton, Alstom Transport UK

"We have about 3,500 employees so that’s about half a million of investment - or a bill.

The learning and development team are over the moon because they now have a massive pot of money they can invest in training.

Businesses which employ 150 or more can register to attend the final Apprenticeship Levy event by clicking below:West Lancashire, October 26, Ribby Hall Village

Enjoyed this? Read more from Dean

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