This article by Hayley Kirton in People Management magazine highlights the slow take-up of businesses using the apprenticeship levy funds that companies are required to pay. The DfE has revealed that the number of new apprenticeship starts between May and July 2017 is down 61% compared to the same period the year before.
Why is this? It seems that there is still a lot of ignorance about what employers can do to use the funds. In addition, are companies finding the process of accessing the levy cumbersome? From our experience it is a challenge but worthy of the effort - why would you not use your own money to increase skills within your business? It's a 'use it or lose it' scenario - 24 months to be able to use the money. Remember, the funds are not just for use on apprenticeships, they can be used to up-skill other members of staff, providing the criteria is met.
My advice is to get in touch with a learning provider asap as they can help to guide you in making the best use of the levy fund. Also there is a government helpline to assist in how to set up access to the funds. Once set up, it is a simple process.
The apprenticeship levy has now been up and running for more than six months. Since April, organisations with an annual wage bill of more than £3m have been required to pay 0.5 per cent of this as a levy. In return, the government will provide 10p for every £1 spent on training, provided it meets certain guidelines (see below). But that hasn’t sparked a desire to spend the cash – in fact, far from it. The Department for Education (DfE) announced in early October that just 10,500 apprenticeship service accounts – the online accounts businesses can use to reclaim their funds – had been opened by the end of August, despite an estimated 19,150 levy-paying companies being eligible for the service.