Companies are being slow to take advantage of the new Apprenticeship Levy that came into effect in April, suggests Bis Henderson Academy - inaction that could lead many businesses to miss out on the opportunities afforded under the scheme to up-skill individuals across the enterprise.
According to David Lynch, Managing Director of Bis Henderson Academy, “Of those companies affected, we are seeing a third who have tangible plans to utilise their levy funds, a third who are thinking about it and another third who are not active at all on the issue.”
Under the scheme, a tax raised at 0.5% of the total payroll bill will be returned to the employer through an online account, along with an uplift of 10% from the government. The employer can spend the money, but only on the delivery of apprenticeship-based training offered through an approved training provider. Funds have to be used within 24 months, after which they expire.
Bis Henderson Academy, one of the first companies to be accredited to RoATP – the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers – suggests that businesses need to start thinking in terms of ‘funded development’ when it comes to the scheme. Organisations should actively consider where they can utilise apprenticeship-based training to complement their future needs and to replace some of their existing training budgets.
“If you aren’t yet doing anything to take advantage of the funds that are already starting to accumulate, then you ought to be,” says David Lynch. “The money being paid out in increased tax isn’t gone – companies can spend it today.”
“We are working with a range of clients to enable them to maximise the value they can gain from their Apprenticeship Levy contributions – advising them on up-skilling their managers, first line team leaders, as well as warehouse operatives, supply chain professionals and customer service teams. We are creating and delivering schemes to enable our clients to get real benefit from this policy, immediately.”
For many organisations the first step is to start looking carefully at their current skills base and what core skills programmes they are involved in, whether at an operational, supervisory, management or even board level. The key is to find or create the right Apprenticeship Standards that will achieve those training goals using Levy funds. This may be across a raft of levels, from the basic NVQ Level 2, right the way up to a degree apprenticeship at level six or seven.