National Apprenticeships Week is your annual reminder that if you haven’t considered the current government scheme, you might be missing a huge opportunity to upskill your workforce at a fraction of the cost of the training.
You might be paying for it anyway.
If your annual salary bill is £3m or more then you are required to pay the apprenticeship levy, equal to 0.5% of your wage bill. This is something you have to pay regardless of whether you take on an apprentice. If you do not use this levy then the government can use it to fund apprenticeships elsewhere.It’s a cheap way of training your staff.
If your annual salary bill is below the £3m threshold, you don’t have to pay the apprenticeship levy – but you can still get government funding for 95% of the training bill for any apprentices you take on.
Training is highly valued by employees.
A recent survey found that 90% of respondents would like their employer to offer training courses that can help them learn new skills. As employers can take on current staff members as apprentices, it’s an opportunity to get them trained up with a qualification at relatively little cost to you or your employee.
It’s not as restrictive as you might think.
Some businesses are put off by the fact that apprentices spend around 20% (equivalent to one day a week full-time) of their time training. However, off-the-job training does not have to involve a whole day per week in college. It can be delivered in a way and place that suits you and the provider, such as a block of time in a residential setting or online learning to fit in with shifts.
You can attract quality candidates.
Some employers find that by advertising their apprenticeships simply as jobs with a training package attached, they attract graduates or those with extensive work experience. ‘If you can offer a training package worth say, £12k, in addition to a basic salary, you’re likely to attract high quality candidates,’ says People Puzzles Director and Co‑Owner, Helen Stenhouse. ‘People just don’t realise what training is available through the apprenticeship programme. You can do customer service, sales, management or even become an accountant. Employees can gain a degree-level qualification while earning money – and have no debt at the end of it.’
Despite all the positives, many companies don’t have apprenticeship programmes, even if they pay the levy. ‘Some think it’s too complicated,’ says Jo Ramsdale, Regional Director at People Puzzles. And while it’s true that they initially take some time to research and set up, the money saved from the training budget could more than make up for it. ‘There are businesses paying more than £15k to the government in tax that is sitting there when they could utilise it,’ Jo continues. ‘You can have people doing management diploma level qualifications, accredited by the Chartered Management Institute. I’ve seen people doing level 5 qualifications, which is equivalent to a business degree. And you can use your existing team, you don’t have to recruit someone from scratch.’
‘It isn’t easy to work out how go about it,’ Helen admits. ‘We had to spend quite a bit of time and effort on the process. But if the course is good and the apprentice works out it’s a win-win situation for everyone.’