With legislation on apprenticeships beginning to have an impact, Kimberley Dondo examines how employers can benefit from these schemes


AS of April 2017, the government began enforcing the new apprenticeship levy. This means all employers with a wages bill of more than £3m a year (around 2% of UK businesses) would be required to pay 0.5% of this to fund apprenticeship costs. These types of training scheme have been transformed in recent years. Sally Garbett, vocational programme manager for St Christopher’s Hospice, says:

“The new Apprenticeship Standards have been developed by employers and focus on the development of the individual for a specific job role. They contain knowledge, skills and behaviours and in most cases qualifications. The welcome change to the funding rules means that part time and zero hours staff can be funded for Apprenticeships, as well as those with existing qualifications in other subjects at higher levels. Apprenticeships are a great way of providing existing or new staff who require substantial new learning with a robust training programme”

For employers with particular skill gaps, apprenticeships can be highly useful as employers are able to have a greater say as to how workers are taught – which in turn fills those skill gaps within a company. Sheila Attwood, pay and benefits editor at XpertHR, says, “It’s important that organisations use apprenticeships for a particular business need, such as to address skills shortages. Once on board, the organisation needs to support the individual right through to the end of their apprenticeship and beyond, in order to make the most of the investment in training.”

Apprenticeships can also be cost effective for businesses, as the government provides support by matching a variety of incentives for employers. Employers can only use funds from their levy account to pay for apprenticeship training and assessment for apprentices that work at least 50% of the time: if the costs of training and assessment go over the funding band maximum, employers will need to pay the difference with other funds from their own budget.

As apprenticeships are a devolved policy, authorities in each of the UK nations manage their own apprenticeship programmes, including how funding is spent on apprenticeship training. For employers based in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, it is important to contact the local apprenticeship authority.

“Businesses should also think more broadly about apprenticeships and not just see them as a way to recruit new starters. Other training that they have perhaps put off due to cost, could be undertaken as an apprenticeship, as long as it meets the new criteria set out by Government,” adds Attwood.

Five questions employers should ask a training provider:

  1. What’s the content?
  2. Is it a framework or a standard?
  3. What is the timeframe for the apprenticeship?
  4. What is the cost?
  5. How will the teaching and learning be delivered?