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7 tips to help you recover your apprenticeship levy

Today marks the start of the government’s new Apprenticeship Levy, a 0.5% tax on wage bills of more than £3million per year. If you’re an employer in scope for the tax and still unsure how to get started, you’re not alone. Research conducted by the City and Guilds skills group revealed that almost a quarter (23%) of employers polled were not aware of the levy, while 28% were not sure whether it would affect their business.

Your levy funds will sit in your account for 24 months before they start to disappear, so there is time to get a plan in place. Here are seven tips to get you started on your apprenticeship levy recovery plan.

Be clear about business objectives: what are the company’s plans for growth? What kind of skills are needed to get there? Look to align skills development activity with your company objectives. In doing so, you can start to plan and invest wisely.

Identify the skills gaps in your team: employers often say they have skills gaps in the workforce, yet can find it difficult to pinpoint where these gaps are. Look for signs of low morale or murmurs of negative feedback about certain teams or people. You may have a skills gap in your workforce that is causing frustration.

Develop your people: your current and existing staff are just as important as new hires and can benefit from your apprenticeship levy. For example, if your business is anything like mine when something needs to be done it often needs to be done quickly, and it’s a proactive member of the team who jumps in to fill the gap and ends up managing the project or a small team. Wrapping this experience up in a Leadership and Management apprenticeship could provide staff with a stable platform for them to grow.

Look at your recruitment needs: apprenticeships are a great match for support roles such as Office Assistants, IT support staff, Marketing Assistants – those positions that work well for first or second jobbers.

Don’t re-invent the wheel: analyse your existing staff training programmes. For example, a graduate internship scheme could convert well into an apprenticeship programme. If you offer support towards finance or legal qualifications, consider whether you could instead offer higher level apprenticeships in those areas. Consider embedding bespoke soft skills training (e.g. communication, time management, presentation skills) into an apprenticeship programme.

Research the most suitable apprenticeship programmes: once you have a clearer idea of the possible apprenticeship opportunities within your business, you can begin to look at the best apprenticeship programmes to support your needs. You can find a list here or if you get stuck, give DiVA a call – we’re happy to advise.

Decide how you want your training to be delivered: you do need to factor in 20% off the job training. There is flexibility on how this can be achieved so don’t worry if you can’t support weekly day release. For example, activities such as shadowing, attending networking events, online seminars, master-classes, attending relevant off-site training courses, sitting in on meetings as an observer, study days and mentoring all count towards the 20%. At DiVA, we issue Apprentices with a CPD plan where they document all activity and have the form countersigned by their employer and us.

There are two ways of looking at the Apprenticeship Levy. Camp a) a stealth tax that is more hassle than it’s worth or camp b) a training fund (fair enough, it’s by force) that is designed for you to use to invest in workforce diversity, skills development, talent retention and ultimately business growth. I’m a glass half-full kind of woman, so you’ll find me in camp b.

DiVA offers a full apprenticeship levy management service which explores in detail the points noted above and more. To access the support, do give our office a call on 0203 189 1784.