Apprenticeships… the new (ish) word on the street!

29th June 2017

Apprenticeships are not something to be scared of or dumbed down…they are the new (ish) word on the street!

Never a week (or sometimes even a day) goes by without a Government spokesperson mentioning the word ‘Apprenticeship’. Over the past 2 or 3 years the accelerator has truly been put to the floor with commentary literally flooding most people’s social media feeds. In 2015, the Government set itself a target of creating 3 million Apprenticeships by 2020. This is a huge target and something that is not achievable without employer help…welcome the Levy! I will go onto demystify and introduce some elements of the levy later on but first let’s concentrate on this ‘Apprenticeship’ trend that we all keep hearing about.

No longer is an Apprentice confined to the building site or the back street garage that we all take our cars to, the economy has moved on and so have Apprentices. Unless you work in education there is a high chance that your only understanding of an Apprentice is someone who ‘learns a trade’, which to some extent is correct although that ‘trade’ is now as wide as you so wish it to be. The genetic makeup of an Apprenticeship has not changed a great deal – you earn as you learn – but the options available have. Apprenticeships are available in over 1500 job roles, covering more than 170 industries, from advertising to youth work and from environmental engineering to legal. With job roles expanding it is only natural that the academic level also expands to accommodate this growth. This is certainly the case with there now being degree level Apprenticeships and even Apprenticeships at master’s level being released. So surely, could this be another avenue for your recruitment headaches?

Graduate schemes were (and are still) seen as one of the best routes for employers to recruit new talent into their organisations. There is though a new kid on the block – an Apprenticeship and with constant Government promotion this really is a viable alternative route to be considered. Promotion though is not the only way that the Government will reach is 3 million target for it is using the ever common push/pull method and the introduction of the levy will do exactly that.

The Levy

The Apprenticeship Levy, a new Government initiative is designed to encourage large companies to maximise the number of Apprentices within their businesses was introduced last month (April 2017) and applies to employers who have an annual payroll in excess of £3m. Payments, at a rate of 0.5%, will be paid through PAYE and apply to employers across all sectors regardless of whether they already employ Apprentices or not. All employers will receive an allowance of £15k to offset against payment of the Levy.

The incremental tax raised on the total payroll bill will be returned to employers through an online account by way of a voucher scheme (not unlike the Childcare voucher system), along with an uplift of 10%from the Government. Training can either be given to new recruits or existing staff.

The employer can only spend the money on the delivery of Apprenticeship based training offered through an approved training provider (Guildford College Group is an approved one!) And if the funds are not used after 24 months any unused vouchers will expire. So organisations need to forward plan in order to make the most out of this scheme. There is however plans from April 2018 to allow for levy-paying employers to transfer up to 10% of Levy funds to another employer – more information will follow on this in autumn 2017.

As the one of the largest Apprenticeship provider in the area, the Guildford College Group have established an outstanding reputation for our commitment and knowledge towards Apprenticeships from Level 2 (roughly the equivalent of 5 GCSEs) through to Level 4, also known as a Higher Apprenticeship (similar to a foundation degree), We currently offer over 20 different Apprenticeships in a diverse range of subjects such as Business Administration, Electrical Installation through to Horticulture and Equine.

If you are looking to hire your first, or next, Apprentice, we can help. With over 75 years of experience of delivering Apprenticeships to the local community, we have lots of experience in working with local employers and can help with finding you the ideal candidate and accessing potential Government grants which could help to support training costs.

Ben Geeson

Head of Business Development – Guildford College

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