Principal Thoughts – February

Posted on: 8 March, 2017

Welcome to the latest edition of Ashley Wheaton’s blog series, ‘Principal Thoughts’. In this blog, Ashley discusses what the upcoming Government apprenticeship levy will mean for the Built Environment, and how companies can capitalise on it straight away.

The apprenticeship levy, which comes into force in April, aims to fund three million apprenticeships by 2020. Although the Built Environment sector is well known for its investment in apprenticeships, this levy provides an additional resource for employers to up-skill existing staff, combat the skills gap and invest in their future workforce.

Although the feeling surrounding the introduction of the levy is generally quite optimistic within both the construction and real estate industries, many companies are yet to begin developing an apprenticeship recruitment strategy. This will undoubtedly need some planning and consideration, however, there are a number of reasons why companies can – and should – begin capitalising on the levy as soon as possible.

Do you already know your next apprentice?  

One lesser-known fact about the apprenticeship levy is that employers can use the funds to train their existing staff members. If you already have a forecast of future training requirements, you can start to make use of the levy as soon as it becomes available. This is a great opportunity to up-skill your existing workforce, running alongside the recruitment of new apprentices.

With this in mind, the introduction of the levy also provides an incentive for businesses to review their learning and development budgets and strategy – which will only be made easier by the Government’s online Apprenticeship Service portal. And this gives employers a chance to review their graduate programmes – particularly with the introduction of higher-level degree apprenticeships.

A race for the best providers

Although the levy has not officially come into force, employers can still use this time to explore the range of apprenticeship providers available to them, and to decide what will work best for their business when the funds are released. Fully registered providers with accredited apprenticeship programmes will be highly sought after by employers, particularly in the construction industry. It’s important to be one step ahead and ensure value for money when spending your levy. Employers should evaluate what they want from a provider, whether it’s end-to-end support to manage the apprentice’s journey, or flexible training programmes which directly suit their business needs.

Use it or lose it

Another reason for employers to kick-start their drive for apprenticeships is the 18-month time limit on spending the levy. If funds remain in a company’s levy account for any longer then they will be taken away. Although the Government will notify you before any of your funds are due to expire, it’s wise to have a plan in place for how best to use them to suit your business – avoiding any last minute panic.

Whilst the Built Environment sector – and construction industry in particular – is well known for hiring apprentices, the process is new for many companies. A step into the unknown can feel like a risky business decision, but with 89 per cent of organisations reporting improved quality of service due to apprentice hire (according to a recent skills development survey), it’s a step that could prove to be brilliant.

At UCEM, we partner with businesses to manage their apprenticeship programme from recruitment to training and on-going support. We’re proud to deliver accredited apprenticeship programmes 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.

Make sure you’re following us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and stay tuned for the next edition of Principal Thoughts.