Apprenticeships are a hot topic, with the Government hoping to increase the number of apprentice starts in England to three million by 2020.
Yet last year, just 13 per cent of the Government’s apprenticeship budget was spent which begs the question – do you fully understand the opportunities and benefits of working with apprentices?
The Apprenticeship Levy explained
In a nutshell, the levy means firms with a wage bill of £3m or more now contribute 0.5% of that bill to invest in apprenticeships.
Putting control in your hands, businesses receive a £15,000 fixed annual allowance to offset against levy payments and to invest in training.
But what if I don’t pay the Levy?
If you’re a non-levy paying business with more than 50 employees, you can take advantage of the Government’s ‘co-investment’ rate whereby it will pay 90% of the training and assessment costs.
If you have fewer than 50 employees, the Government will fund the full cost of any apprentice so long as they are under 18 years old.
An opportunity rather than an obligation
Apprenticeships can encompass a whole range of different training methods that can be tweaked and modified to suit your business needs.
Perhaps you need new technical skills to grow your product offering, you’ve got a group of promising junior staff who you want to retain or you’re looking to develop your management team.
Apprenticeship programmes could be the solution to these issues, from bringing new staff into the business to equipping existing employees with the skills they need to progress.
It pays to talk to someone who can assess your challenges and match them with solutions that can be structured to suit your business needs.
Northern Skills Group (NSG), the training arm of Middlesbrough College can help levy paying companies access funding via the Government’s digital apprenticeship service.
Apprentices in action
One international business putting apprentices at the heart of its work is Danish shipping and logistics company DFDS.
Through its long-standing partnership with Northern Skills Group, the business's North East division employs a new cohort of apprentices every 12 months, with the majority progressing into permanent careers with the company.
As well as their day-to-day role as a travel advisor, DFDS apprentices also study for a qualification in customer service, with training provided by NSG.
Lynsey Chappell, head of DFDS's UK contact centre, said: "We recognise the importance of investing in future skills – that’s why we’ve been working with apprentices – and NSG – for the past seven years.
"Put simply, our apprenticeship scheme works. We’ve found this route allows us to shape the learning and ensure we have the skills we need in our company – all the while, helping apprentices learn on the job and build the confidence to forge a successful career in the industry.
“It also allows us to develop our talent in-house and we’ve had former apprentices progress into senior roles, with many others taking on permanent careers with the company.
“It’s also great for our culture and makes us an employer of choice.”
And now, DFDS is encouraging other firms to consider the benefits of running an apprenticeship programme.
Lynsey added: "It's easy for business owners to feel they may not have the time to dedicate to taking on apprentices - but in fact, they can be a real asset to your team.
"We’ve built really great relationship with Northern Skills Group – the team really understand our needs and make the whole recruitment process easy and hassle-free.”
Ok, now I’m considering an apprenticeship programme, what’s next?
Northern Skills Group works with more than 2,000 businesses across the North East and Yorkshire to support learners and businesses in more sectors at more skill levels than ever before.
To find out how your business could take advantage of the Apprenticeship Levy, contact NSG on 03453 40 40 40 or firstname.lastname@example.org.