Navigating the Digital Apprenticeship Service: getting your funding back

The Digital Apprenticeship Service is live! Understand the background to this important new apprenticeship tool for employers and learn how to setup your account.

Around 79% of Levy paying organisations responding to our recent survey said that they are currently running apprenticeship programmes, with a large proportion of these (66%) looking to expand their participation in future.

That leaves however around a fifth who are currently not making use of their levy funding, and our research is not an anomaly: research released in early July by the Open University also showed that around a fifth of respondents had no plans to access their funding imminently. According to the OU research many say they still don’t know how the levy works.

If you are one of those employers who are still in the dark why not sign-up for the latest in our Insight Webinar series, where you will receive a step-by-step walkthrough of the Apprenticeship system based on the real-life experience of a Levy-payer?

Background the the DAS

The Digital Apprenticeship Service was one of the first (if not the actual first) government projects to be created using Agile methodology. For anyone not familiar with this – it’s a project management framework characterised by ‘co-located’ teams ( which means, representatives from each concerned function actually physically sitting and working together) and by iterative development (essentially, the aim is to release a minimum viable product as quickly as possible, with modifications and improvements to follow in successive releases).

It’s kinda what all the cool kids are doing. So kudos, Education and Skills Funding Agency! (#oneteam).

What this means for you – the Levy payer –  is twofold. It means, first-off, that what you’re getting has been developed collaboratively between policy makers, technicians and operations experts ,and most importantly with employers so a lot of thought has gone into ensuring that it gives you all the functionality you need – from the ability to deal with an array of different payment scenarios, to the ability to delegate some of the admin to your training provider.

In testing, employers told the ESFA (according to their blog), that “the service is simple, easy to use and intuitive.” Unfortunately, that’s not quite what we’re hearing from the organisations we talk to, although rather than the fault lying necessarily with the system, it may rather be that the fault is with the level or quality of support made available to organisations to help them get started with it.

Secondly, it means it’s not the complete and finished product – and that you do have the opportunity to shape it. According to Mark Stanley, Head of Delivery for the Apprenticeship Service, ‘we hope it will look markedly different in a year’s time. That’s when we get really substantial feedback.’

Getting the right support

When we say the fault may be with the quality of support we don’t wish to be unduly unfair to the ESFA. Gov.uk is awash with information about the apprenticeship funding, recruitment, management and so on. The problem is, it’s all written and presented in a way as to be somewhat indigestible.

Lengthy PDFs with numbered and sub-numbered points read like bills put before parliament (which presumably they were), and worse; ‘ link’ out to other helpful documents, so you’re never sure which you should be reading first, or which one applies to you. What was missing from the Agile team it seems was a customer communications person to make it a bit more accessible. We prefer plain English!

Sign up for our free webinar now

Luckily we can help you with that. If you’re in that fifth of levy-payers currently put off by the complexity of retrieving your funding, sign-up for the latest in our Insight Webinar series, where a real person will give you a step-by-step walkthrough of the Apprenticeship system based on the real-life experience of a Levy-payer.

For more information, take a look at our official guidance and video walkthroughs.