Apprenticeships – what you need to know

Apprentice
Geber86 / iStock
Annette Allmark
Director of Strategic Policy
People 1st
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The apprenticeship system in England is currently going through its biggest change in decades.

With new employer-led apprenticeship standards available and the government’s apprenticeship levy due to start in April 2017, there has never been a better time to use apprenticeships to build the talent and skills in your business.

If you want to make sure you get the best results from your levy payment, you need to start planning now. Here are five top tips on how you can prepare your business.   

Understand the levy and the impact to your business

The apprenticeship levy will be introduced in April 2017 to all businesses with a pay bill over £3million. Businesses will have to pay an annual levy of 0.5% of their pay bill which can only be recouped when you employ and train apprentices.

To make sure you get the best results from your levy payment, you need to start planning now. You should work out what impact it will have on your business and develop an apprenticeship strategy to ensure you maximise your return on the levy investment.

You can view key facts about how the levy will work here.

Think about how apprenticeships can be used to develop your talent

Apprenticeships can fit into businesses in a number of ways. They can be used as a recruitment tool or to help staff progress within the business.

The new-style apprenticeships have been developed by employers and form progressive career pathways, incorporating the knowledge, skills and behaviours employers have defined for today’s industry. Whereas existing apprenticeships specify the qualifications an apprentice must take, the new system is much more practical, stating exactly what an apprentice should be able to do once they complete their training programme.

Look across your business and explore the new standards, covering entry level through to managerial roles, to see which of them can be used to develop the skills you need.

Look at what you already do

In the new apprenticeships, the training is not prescribed, so you can choose in-house or external programmes.

You have flexibility in the training your apprentice undertakes as long as it meets the apprenticeship standard - so you can decide the combination of training that best suits your business needs.

Think about the internal and external programmes that will benefit your business, and how they meet the standards.

External training provider or your in-house team?

If you plan to use an external training provider, you’ll need to identify the one that best meets your needs. You should check your chosen provider is on the register of apprenticeship training providers to be confident that they have the capacity and capability to deliver good quality apprenticeships.

Alternatively, if you choose to deliver the training in-house, you’ll need to register your own business as a provider on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers. A guide is available from gov.uk to walk you through the process.

Plan the end-point assessment

Apprentices must pass an assessment at the end of the programme, which checks their competence and ensures the apprentice is ready to progress.

As an employer, you’ll be responsible for deciding when your apprentice is ready for the assessment, and you’ll need to be confident that they have covered the full standard. Their progress should be regularly reviewed and recorded throughout the programme.

You’ll need to choose an assessment organisation to carry out the end-point assessment, and your training provider will contract with them on your behalf. If you’re delivering the training yourself, you will need to contract with them directly.

To find organisations that are approved to assess the standards in your industry, you’ll be able to search the Register of Apprenticeship Assessment Organisations via the apprenticeship service (commonly know as the Digital Apprenticeship Service or DAS during its development), which is now open for registration for levy paying employers and will be open for non-levy paying employers from 2018."

About AnnetteAllmark

About AnnetteAllmark

People 1st delivers consultancy that enables its clients to retain staff, increase productivity and create and implement effective people strategies.

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