16 May 2017

Apprenticeships – Bagging the Benefits of The Apprenticeship Levy

The UK’s new Apprenticeship Levy means all businesses with a £3m+ payroll have to invest 0.5% back into apprenticeships, creating an excellent opportunity to enhance their employer brand. Here’s how…

Apprenticeships have long been an option for young people looking for a productive alternative to A-levels or university, however a lot of employers don’t realise that apprenticeships are available up to the age of 64 and for current employees too.

Apprenticeships, described simply, are on-the-job learning programmes that enable new and existing employees the opportunity to gain an accredited training programme while they earn a wage. There are over 300 programmes available, across multiple industries in a variety of specialities, providing fantastic opportunities for both learners and companies to up-skill their workforce. And with the introduction of the new Apprenticeship Levy, both new and existing employees will be able to benefit from apprenticeship training.

Diving into the details

Owned by the Skills Funding Agency, the apprenticeship levy has been launched as part of the drive to train 3 million new apprentices by 2020. The idea is to increase the skills level within the UK and to address the decreased focus on employee training outside the workplace.

Any company that has a £3m+ wage bill will have to pay 0.5% of their total bill through Pay As You Earn, affecting a whopping 22,000 organisations.

Seizing the opportunity

Implementing a strategy to use this new initiative to your advantage is key to see a return on investment. It’s also a great way to plan for the future, bringing the next wave of talent through your business.

So, it’s time to align apprenticeship training to your business, brand and HR objectives, using the knock-on effect of this levy to:

  • Attract more talent
  • Inspire existing team members
  • Enhance your employer brand

Reacting quickly in order to benefit is easier said than done. Here are 5 steps to get you started:

  1. Go back to your objectives, where will the business benefit most?
  2. Decide which teams can support a new apprentice or team member’s training
  3. With this information, filter the programmes to suit your plan
  4. If you haven’t already, find a training provider that can deliver these programmes
  5. Create a simple one-page plan that you can use to gain stakeholder buy-in

In your plan make sure to include:

a. Who will be able to apply to the programmes (Just external? Just internal? Both?)

b. What qualification you will offer (including the levels)

c. The application process (internal or external)

d. Key timelines and milestones

e. Success measurement criteria

Busting the myths

To support any new initiative, communication is key and busting the myth that apprenticeships are only for 16-18yr olds is important. A targeted launch campaign will help drum up excitement, increase the interest in the programme and promote the apprenticeships as a career development opportunity. It is vital your business understands the plan (set out above) and how it will benefit everyone.

Engagement with the edge

Aim for real engagement and cut-through with your audience. Consider:

  • Engaging recruitment and application process – open days/video applications/programme brochures
  • Induction process – invitations/induction packs/goody bags
  • Manager training workshops or guidance packs for support
  • Tailored and branded training materials for your learners
  • Emailer to update people on progress, successes and news
  • Specific training hub/microsite for those on the programme

Boosting brand perception

Lastly, not only can apprenticeship training engage and develop your workforce, great training can also benefit your employer brand by:

  • Improving your attraction strategy, strengthening your overall brand by being seen as an employer committed to learning & development
  • Showcasing the opportunities available to your current staff by offering them development and sideways movement into other areas of the business

For more information on starting an apprenticeship programme and how your brand can benefit get in touch with our resident apprenticeships expert, Sarah Shergold, sarah.s@mccannsynergy.com.uk

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