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Higher apprenticeships help businesses to attract motivated and aspirational staff, training them in a way that maximises their potential and addresses specific business needs. Apprentices are fully employed by you and help manage day-to-day operations throughout their training.

The document below, published by the department of education, is a great place to start your research.

A step-by-step guide to the apprenticeship service

What is the apprenticeship levy?

The apprenticeship levy requires all employers operating in the UK, with a pay bill over £3 million each year, to make an investment in apprenticeships. You can then benefit from this investment by training apprentices.

You will pay the levy to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) through the Pay as You Earn (PAYE) process.

Find out more

What happens to the money once it is paid under the levy?

The paid in funding will be available via the new digital account and you will be able to direct funding towards the apprenticeship training you want through the new Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS).

The Service will also support employers to identify and pay a provider, choose an apprenticeship training course, find a candidate and choose a training provider, if you don’t already have this in place.

Employers are free to spend their money on apprenticeships training which they judge best meets their needs.

How long do the funds stay available?

Funds will expire 24 months after they enter your digital account unless you spend them on apprenticeship training

Choosing a training provider and an assessment organisation

Unless you are already working with a provider in the development of a course, you will need to choose a training provider as part of the employment process.

If you're spending funds in your digital account, or accessing funding through co-investment, you can only spend it with an approved training provider. All employers will be able to access a register of approved training providers through the digital apprenticeship service.

What are the benefits to an employer?

  • A tailored solution for your business with course content that meets your business need.
  • Increased productivity in training new and existing staff, ensuring knowledge of modern techniques and technology.
  • Development of knowledge, performance and aptitude to fill higher level skills gaps.
  • Expanded workplace diversity through recruiting from a larger talent pool.
  • Development of high calibre staff who can add value through mentoring other staff members.
  • Enhanced retention of a skilled workforce, aligned with the unique needs of your business.
  • A training opportunity that makes financial sense with the introduction of the new apprenticeship levy.

What are the costs?

Pre Levy (prior to May 2017)

Under the current Trailblazer funding model for 2016/17, the Government will contribute two thirds of the total cost of training, up to a cap, with employers contributing the other third.

Under apprenticeship standards funding rules 2016 to 2017 (version 2) employers are entitled to additional incentive payments as follows:

 ConditionIncentive payment
 Recruiting a 16-18 year old   Up to £5,400
Small business (<50 employees)  Up to £2,700
Successful completion  Up to £2,700

Employers will need to pay their degree apprentices a wage, contribute towards tuition costs and cover the cost of any professional body membership fees.

For example Solent’s Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA) is CAP 6 under the apprenticeship funding model which means that:

  • Maximum core government contribution is £18,000
  • Maximum employer contribution would be £9,000

The tuition fee for the full CMDA would be £27,000.

Post Levy (from May 2017 onwards)

Under current post Levy (from May 2017 onwards) funding proposals, levy paying employers (businesses with an annual payroll >£3million) will be able to use funds accrued in their digital levy account for payment of the training drawn from the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers. 

What if I am a non-levy paying employer?

Non-levy paying business, or those business that need to supplement their digital levy account will need to co-invest 10% of the cost of the training with the government to pay the remaining 90%. 

Small businesses (<50 employees) will receive 100% of the funding where the apprentice is 16-18 years old or is between 19-24 and has a local authority education, health and care plan (EHC plan).

Employers and training providers also both receive an additional £1,000 where employers take on a 16 to 18 year old. This is to be paid by way of two equal installments after 3 months and 12 months.

For example, Solent’s CMDA is proposed to be Band 15 in the new bandings with an upper limit of £27,000 which means that for non-levy paying businesses the co-invest amount would be £2,700 over the duration of the training.

Can I use the levy on existing employees?

Yes, you can use the funding to bring in new employees or develop current employees. There will be limits on the amount per employee. What is more you will be able to fund training at a lower level to what the employee has previously attained, providing it is developing new skills.

What are the next steps?

The team here at Solent are happy to talk through our current offerings and look at how we can work together with you as an employer to address your needs. We can also offer information on the next steps so contact us today on the contact details below. You can also find a wealth of information on the websites below:

Useful links

The Skills Funding Agency have released an employer guide to higher apprenticeships which can be seen here.

The National Apprenticeship Service's page for employers can be seen here.

Alternatively you can also call the National Apprenticeship Service on 08000 150 600 or email them at

Get in touch

If you are interested in hiring an apprentice, the team here at Solent is here to help. Please contact  

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