Principal Thoughts – April

Posted on: 12 May, 2017

Using the levy to up-skill your existing workforce: why it’s worth thinking about apprenticeships for your current employees

Welcome to the latest edition of Ashley Wheaton’s ‘Principal Thoughts’. This month, Ashley explores how the Built Environment sector can utilise the recent apprenticeship levy to develop organisations’ existing workforces.

Following on from last month’s look at making the most of the apprenticeship levy funding, and securing and growing the very top talent, I wanted to take a deeper dive into the benefits of using the levy to train existing staff – alongside newly recruited apprentices.

Contrary to popular belief, apprenticeships aren’t just for new recruits at entry level. While the levy brings with it a plethora of apprenticeship programmes, it can also be used to develop and up-skill existing staff – as long as the training meets an approved standard or framework and the individual meets the apprentice eligibility criteria.

Benefits of apprenticeships for the existing workforce

Here are some reasons why it’s worth thinking about whether there are any suitable people already in the organisation who would benefit from an apprenticeship:

  1. Unlocking hidden talent

The levy can help employers unlock the talent already existing within their current workforce. This may be established employees looking to build on their experience and progress through the company – or wanting to take a side step and move their career in a new direction; maybe someone in marketing wants to swap press releases for property audits as a Charted Surveyor?

That said, it doesn’t just have to be long-standing staff – there could be some bright new prospects with real development potential.

  1. Promoting from within

The newly introduced Level 6 degree apprenticeships are at the same level as a full bachelor’s degree. This enables employers to provide apprenticeship training at a fully recognised, higher level, progressing staff from junior to senior roles while still in work.

By giving staff the opportunity to develop at a high level, employers are able to re-train them for career progression or up-skill them to meet the needs of evolving job roles.

  1. Retain your very best

Investing in and progressing your existing talent helps keep employees engaged and ensures retention of your best staff. It not only builds a higher level of commitment but creates a highly knowledgeable workforce – and, ultimately, reduces costs.

Apprenticeships can have a positive impact on employee retention through a combination of quality training and the ability and support to learn and grow from within the business – while retaining a full-time job and salary.

  1. Solving current and future skills gaps

Apprenticeship programmes can help businesses build a skills pipeline to fulfil current and future roles – and future-proof the organisation. By developing staff via vocational training, skills can be developed in both specialist and leadership roles – and people can apply those skills to their role immediately.

Meeting business goals

Investing in broadening the skill sets of existing employees should largely be dictated by what the organisation is looking to achieve in both the short and long term. The apprenticeship levy presents a great opportunity for businesses to not only offset their current training spend but help execute upon an effective workforce development strategy.

Today’s apprenticeship schemes offer a toolset for addressing workforce strategies. And since the new apprenticeship standards are much less prescriptive than current frameworks, there’s a great opportunity to engage with the course content and develop bespoke training aligned to the business objectives.

At UCEM, we partner with businesses to manage their apprenticeship programme from recruitment and training to on-going support – at both level 3 (A-level equivalent) and level 6 (degree level). For more information about apprenticeship funding, click here, or get in touch with our apprenticeship team to find out how we can support your business.

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