5 Things Businesses Should Consider Before Spending the Apprenticeship Levy

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This year, the UK government’s newly introduced apprenticeship levy came in 1st may. However, surprisingly, according to official figures, the total apprenticeships started in May, June and July fell 61% compared to the previous year. Here Debbie Gardiner, CEO at Qube Learning, discusses the levy, how to make the most of it, and the benefits it can reap for any business.

The DfE’s recently published provisional statistics illustrated a 61% fall in new Apprenticeship starters for the period May – July, in comparison to the same funding period last year. Amid the fallout from within the sector to this news, there is an increasing number of providers and employers making significant headway in making the Apprenticeship Reforms work and I felt it’d be beneficial to reflect on the top five things for businesses to consider in spending their levy allocation.

Shop for the Best Deal

Many businesses out there will have long-standing relationships with providers already in place from yesteryear. These relationships may be working perfectly fine, but some providers may have become complacent and no longer offer value for money. Now’s a perfect time to shop around! Meet with a selection of providers before making any commitments – ask them to present and demonstrate what sets them apart from competitors; you deserve the most bang for your buck. (And if you have a significant amount of levy to spend you may be lucky enough to put your work out to tender which makes parting ways with old flames easier!)

Effective Forecasting

Understanding funding methodology can be daunting to the uninitiated. Ask your chosen provider to help you budget your levy allocation to ensure effective spending and agree fees that provide value for money. It’s important that the training provider aligns the offer with your long-term learning and development plans, providing progression opportunities for Apprentices that encourages staff retention and return on investment for the business.

Collaborate, Collaborate, Collaborate

Without exception, it’s important that the delivery models incorporate your behaviours and values. At Qube, we have Programme Design Specialists; at the commencement of all new programme delivery our teams integrate into the business, shadow departmental heads, access in-house training resources and embed them into the scheme of work. This ensures the schemes of work, delivery models and methods work for everyone. My advice to businesses is not to forget you are in the position to make such requests and if the provider isn’t willing to meet you in the middle and collaborate, then they are most likely not the right provider for you.

Added Value

Internally you will likely have an idea of what peripheral services your business requires in addition to simply meeting the Apprenticeship standard. As a minimum, providers should be offering you free access to their Traineeship and Apprenticeship recruitment services, internal and external marketing resources and a blended approach to delivery that meets the demands of your business. Other key benefits to look out for are innovative approaches to attaining the 20% off-the-job training requirement so as that it doesn’t impact on the productivity of your teams and adds value to the business. Look for an offer to embed optional modules and qualifications into the delivery plan, think about what your customers want and any external assessment measures you need to meet and make sure the provider threads these key success factors across the programme. If you don’t ask, you won’t get!

Account Management is Essential

Once you have a provider in place it’s important that you have the opportunity to feedback on what aspects of the service are working well and which are not. We employ a team of Employer Account Managers who meet with our customers monthly and provide a detailed corporate account report that shows analysis of every aspect of the partnership, from Apprentice progress, statistical analysis of demographics of students to service satisfaction levels, details about the programme being delivered and any issues arising. Our Employer Account Managers work collaboratively, providing a support service in relation to the governments’ Apprenticeship Service (AS) system, finding new and innovative solutions to business problems and helping them to manage their Levy funds using our unique ‘ANAP’ (Apprenticeship Needs Analysis Profiler). Partnerships should be subject to continuous review and reasonable adjustments, to ensure you as the customer receive the product and service you want and need.

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