There is no quicker way to learn than to immerse yourself in an unfamiliar environment, and that’s how apprenticeships work. People are immersed in their role and they learn by doing. It really is no wonder why work-based learning delivers such fantastic results for employers. They offer businesses an array of benefits, from retention to productivity. In fact, research has shown that a typical apprentice delivers productivity gains of over £10,000 per annum. With the arrival of new standards, there is no better time to invest in apprenticeships.
The new standards, created by employers for employers, now offer more role and sector relevant training than previously. They support team members to develop suitable skills, knowledge and behaviours to help them perform their job roles to the highest possible standards. Now that these reforms are in full swing, it’s imperative that business owners and investors see a real return on investment. You are now paying a levy for your apprenticeship training provision and it’s only right that we monitor the success of programmes carefully against an agreed set of criteria.
So, how do we ensure apprenticeships programmes perform? Critically we must plan well at the very beginning. We must endeavour to create a plan that befits the business and supports its objectives, that takes into account the bigger picture.
A decent apprenticeship training plan will describe the apprenticeship programmes and how they are expected to support business objectives. Career pathways should be created to demonstrate how the business might expect an apprentice to develop with the business and the length of time and investment this will require. Any resource and budgeting considerations or constraints will also need to be factored in.
To support the uptake of apprenticeships moving forward, a number of incentives have been put in place to support the transition to standards and to achieve employer buy-in. These include:
- An annual £15,000 allowance to offset the levy fee
- 0% monthly top up to levy fund
- 1,000 per 16 to 18 year old apprentice (and 19 to 24 year olds with a Local Authority education, health and care plan)
- Employers of less than 50 people will not pay a contribution for apprentices aged 16 to 18 or those aged 19 to 24 who meet the special requirements – 100% of the cost will be supported by the government
- In addition, businesses no longer need to pay National Insurance contributions for apprentices under the age of 25
- From April 2018, employers that pay the apprenticeship levy will have the option to transfer 10 percent of their annual apprenticeship funds to other organisations.
Apprenticeships as a route into work play a vital role. They improve the country’s employment record and develop the skills of the workforce, which in turn delivers economic value for all of us. Furthermore, to future proof our businesses, and our sectors, it makes sense to invest in our employees. By nurturing their career development they can then give back to our business and our industry.