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Thursday 21 September 2017

Annelies James clears up the confusion around the Apprenticeship Levy with her top 5 FAQs.

1.     What courses are available?

Unfortunately, there is not full coverage with apprenticeships yet and providers are all offering a slightly different selection based on the resources they have. That said, there is still a wide range of courses that you can access but potentially across a variety of different providers. You can find the apprenticeship standards here, and you can search training courses on the Digital Account by obtaining the provider UK PRN.  It is anticipated that by next academic year there will be almost full coverage with apprenticeships and providers will offer a more joined-up service so that employers can access training more easily. In the meantime, employers will have to negotiate multiple providers or use apprenticeship management services. But my advice is to approach training providers and let them guide you because we are the experts.  

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2.     How do I know my employees won’t leave after I have trained them?

This question comes up a lot. It is difficult to predict what people will do but apprenticeships work to help employees understand their workplace better and perform against objectives more effectively. It allows employees to learn not only the job but the culture, the processes and how they contribute to the overall strategy or mission of the company. Whilst being more qualified, all that learning has been specifically focused on their existing workplace, so is it is less likely that they would want to just leave. The Skills Funding Agency did some research to this effect. As Richard Branson says; “train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to.”

3.     If my company is part of a larger umbrella organisation, but consider ourselves SME can we access the Government co-investment?

If your company is part of a larger organisation you are all considered as a part of the levy paying organisation and as such you will need to discuss how training is distributed fairly across the different facets involved. That said the levy can be split between different PAYE accounts.

Interestingly, there is also the option to share funds with another employer. This is a great opportunity for levy employers to help support smaller employers. This works for groups of employers, who can collect their funds into a single larger account by becoming “connected companies”. The IFA will allow levy-paying employers to transfer funds to another employer or apprenticeship training agency through the apprenticeship service, up to 10% of the annual value of funds entering their Digital Account.

More information on registering multiple connected companies can be found here.

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4.     What happens if I spend my whole levy but need more training?

Once a levied employer has spent their allocation they can then enter co-investment, meaning they can access training for only 10% of the cost with the Government contributing 90%. What a deal! Many employers are looking at the best way to capitalise on this and higher and degree apprenticeships are looking to be one of the most rewarding ways to gain training at only a fraction of the cost. Again, training providers can offer guidance on how best to get return on your levy fund and overspending.

Find out more about Solent's higher and degree apprenticeships

5.     What does the work mentor do and how can my provider support this?

The work mentor is a pivotal role for helping to manage and support the apprentice in the workplace. They would be utilised for support during working hours but also to ensure the 20% off-the-job is adhered to and achieved. They will attend review meetings alongside the apprentice with the training provider and may also be asked to evidence or qualify work based behaviours and skills. The workplace mentor may not be a direct line manager, but will need to be someone who holds relevant skills so that they can fully support the apprentice whether they are a new recruit or established member of staff. There are apprenticeship standards (not yet approved) for learning mentors and assessors/coaches, so this might be of interest when they launch. Solent are also looking to establish mentor workshops to support those new to mentoring, if this is of interest then please drop me a line.

Solent is committed to helping employers navigate apprenticeships. We offer an advisory service on how it works, what is available and where to access training that is fit-for-purpose and makes an impact. Please get in touch today to book a meeting.

Read more by Annelies James