Levy funded management apprenticeships - the top six employer mistakes

The Apprenticeship Levy offers an unprecedented opportunity to upskill your organisation via funded management apprenticeships. 

There are lots of good reasons for employers to leverage the scheme and ramp up their training today. But making the most of Levy funded apprenticeships is not straightforward. Below we share some of the wrong reasons for getting involved - has your business fallen into one of these common traps?

1. Rubber stamping

Some employers see management apprenticeships as simply an opportunity to get their Levy money back. In some ways this is worse than writing off the Levy as tax because it’s just not possible to provide a genuine training programme without commitment. And good luck evading the critical eye of Ofsted. Any businesses caught providing sub-par training will be barred from continuing to train its staff, but will still have to pay the Levy. And it’s not just a matter of rebadging an existing training programme. Employers have to prove they can offer something new, choosing from a range of approved management training qualifications. This is all about mindset. Employers should be focused on enrichment and development, not simply recouping their cash.

2. Doing it for the sake of it

The Apprenticeship Levy offers significant benefits to thousands of businesses, but is yours one of them? Having a wage bill exceeding £3 million is just the first criterion. Even if you have the right mindset, your business may simply have minimal requirement for training. For instance, call centres with a well-defined skill set and tight margins may suffer if they have to provide 20% off-the-job training to their employees. On the other hand, you may see an opportunity to upskill existing staff to bolster the ranks of team leaders. However, not all businesses with large wage bills are large businesses. If you can't absorb the cost and time of training, think twice before claiming the Levy back.

3. Forgetting the future

How will the Levy help address your current and future skills challenge Management apprenticeships are already approved for funding, but many employers are also looking at STEM skills and cyber security. Even if you don’t have a current requirement, remember that the marketplace is always evolving. What will your business need in five years to keep pace with the competition?

4. Lacking adequate infrastructure

Many employers underestimate the sheer scale of the task. Experienced providers can attest to the challenges and unexpected intricacies of delivering an organisation-wide training programme. Do you have the infrastructure and support system for a rapid implementation? Beware simply scaling up. Expansion could bring in hundreds of new apprentices, but is your business ready to manage the influx, with appropriate mentoring and pastoral care, without putting too much strain on existing staff?

5. Launching without buy-in

How will you make the business case to internal stakeholders? Most people involved in learning and development and HR instantly appreciate the benefits of the Apprenticeship Levy. However, they often need to persuade internal stakeholders to invest in the scheme. An experienced training provider can help you make a persuasive business case for the Levy, anticipating and overcoming objections so you can make a compelling argument to your colleagues.

6. Not choosing an experienced training provider

Some employers are large enough to become certified training providers in their own right. Most, however, will need to seek an external provider who is on the register of approved apprenticeship providers. Choose a provider that can guide you through the process and develop a training programme that is tailored to your organisation. And remember to nominate an organisation to administer End Point Assessment (EPA). By law, apprentices must be assessed by a separate body to the employer and the training provider. Establish up front who will be providing this service.

Pearson TQ is experienced with working with a number of EPA providers and can work with any that you choose, but within Pearson we also have our own EPA organisation, which is approved to assess specific standards by the Skills Funding Agency and completely separate to our training division. You can work with Pearson's EPA whether we provide your training or not.