Apprenticeships are on the rise in the United Kingdom. Apprenticeships are paid jobs that incorporate on and off the job training. A successful apprentice will qualify with a nationally recognized qualification on completion (or “achievement”) of their contract. According the most recent data released by Parliament, there were 499,900 apprenticeship starts in England, a 14 percent increase over the previous year.
How the government funds apprenticeships is changing. By April 2017, some employers will be required to contribute to a new Apprenticeship Levy, and there will be overall changes to the funding for apprenticeship training for all employers. The apprenticeship levy requires all employers operating in the United Kingdom, with a pay bill over £3 million each year, to make an investment in apprenticeships.
The main aim is to support employers in growing the number and quality of apprenticeships in their own workforce. In the first year of the levy, organizations will be able to use the funds in their digital accounts to pay for apprenticeship training and assessment for employees. Some employers may also want to use funds in their digital account to pay for apprenticeship training of other employer’s apprentices; for example, someone in their supply chain.
But according to a new survey conducted for the upcoming World of Learning conference, most U.K. organizations are not ready for the new levy. When survey respondents were asked if they felt their company was prepared for the Apprenticeship Levy, 56 percent answered no. With a matter of months remaining before the levy is implemented, this result was unexpected.
“We were already aware that the impending Apprenticeship Levy would create a new challenge for many companies,” says Andrew Gee, senior project manager for the World of Learning. “However, it came as a real surprise to us that the majority of companies questioned in the survey stated that they are not prepared for the levy.”
To help organizations navigate the new levy, World of Learning is offering an Apprenticeship Zone. U.K. Department of Education also recently released new guidelines on how the levy works. Issues covered include paying the levy, accessing the digital apprenticeship service, finding approved training providers, and more.