If the word apprentice conjures up images of a young person in overalls learning a trade or manual skill, you’re probably not aware of what the government’s apprenticeship scheme looks like since its relaunch in 2017. There are over 700 apprenticeship standards now available, so there’s more likely to be an approved programme which aligns with your business needs.
For this week’s Survive and Thrive session we learned about the current opportunities for SMEs to maximise on apprenticeship schemes. Kate Temple-Brown from The Opportunity Group shared her experience of successful apprenticeship placements, debunked a few myths and explained how SMEs can access apprenticeship funding to prepare for the future. Laura Keen, Apprenticeship Leader at Heart of the City ambassador company EY talked through building up EY’s robust apprenticeship programme, having started there as an apprentice herself.
- Any employee of any age and any tenure can be an apprentice
- Employees can join apprenticeships even if they have a degree (as long as it’s a different subject)
- There are over 250 different standards that you can choose
- Employers can use several training providers and a mixture of open and closed cohorts
- Employers can co-design a programme
- An apprenticeship can be called anything you want
- Apprentices will be supported to be successful and progress through the programme
- It’s the training provider’s responsibility to make sure there’s enough off the job activity
- If you spend all your levy pot, funding can be topped up
- If your company doesn’t pay into the levy pot you can benefit from a levy transfer from a larger organisation
Apprenticeship funding for non-levy paying employers
It’s easy to associate the government’s apprenticeship funding scheme with bigger businesses. So it was great to hear how they’ve made it easier for SMEs to access the funding.
Businesses with an annual national insurance bill of more than £3m have to pay the apprenticeship levy. This levy is used to fund apprenticeships. Non-levy paying businesses can access funding through Levy Donation: larger companies can give up to 25% of unspent levy fund to any business to support their apprenticeship training.
A good starting point to find out more about Levy Donation would be to contact the London Progression Collaboration.
Where apprenticeships go, the employer is the decision maker
Make sure you’re using available funding to support your business in the best way possible. If you can’t support an apprenticeship placement for a new employee, could you use the funding to help an existing employee develop? If you don’t have the internal infrastructure or resource to support an apprentice, could you collaborate? Consider getting in touch with other SMEs in your sector to create a group of apprentices – this could help with the pastoral and social side of the experience too.
Working with training providers should be a true partnership. Providers should give you the opportunity to deliver the training flexibly in line with what works for your business.
An apprenticeship for the responsible business sector
It was exciting to hear from Heart of the City trustee Rob Powell on the upcoming Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability apprenticeship standard – level 4 a 3-year apprenticeship, which is set to be ready for delivery in Feb 2021. Watch this space!
Don’t miss our next Survive and Thrive session!
Join our next Survive and Thrive webinar on 21 October. We’ve teamed up with the Institute of Directors City for the Autumn series, and in this session we’ll be talking about why responsible business matters, with speakers from our ambassador companies Salesforce.org and BNP Paribas. Heart of the City members can sign up here.