The Apprenticeship Levy: Top Tips to Maximise Your Funds in 2020 - A group of professional individuals working around a computer
If you’re paying the apprenticeship levy, you’ll want to get as much value back from your investment as possible. We’ve put together our top tips on how you can maximise your funds in 2020 to ensure the apprenticeship levy delivers real value for money.

1. Stay up-to-date with new apprenticeship standards

Are you aware of the range of apprenticeship standards currently available? Since the apprenticeship levy was introduced in 2017, hundreds of new apprenticeship standards have been developed. This means there are over 500 apprenticeship standards approved for delivery today. More recent standards include human resources, learning and development, sales and marketing and advertising and media.

Apprenticeship standards have been designed to develop employees at a variety of levels, and include entry-level programmes for new recruits as well as higher and degree-level apprenticeship standards for more experienced staff.

Thanks to trailblazer groups the number of new apprenticeship standards is set to increase further. Driven to develop new programmes of learning to directly impact their workforce, groups of employers are coming together to form trailblazer groups. These groups work alongside the Institute for Apprenticeships to develop new apprenticeship standards focused on the specific knowledge, skills and behaviours needed within their sector.

2. Plan ahead

The apprenticeship levy provides a unique opportunity to transform your learning and development strategy. But you’ll need a robust plan to ensure you’re investing your funds to meet current and future skills needs.

Firstly, you’ll need to identify your business objectives and training priorities. Then you’ll want to map them against the most relevant apprenticeship standards available. Would it be more efficient to recruit new talent, or upskill existing staff? Finally, you’ll need to set out a realistic timeframe to work towards.

3. Choose the right strategic partner

You’re not in this alone. The right strategic partner will understand the purpose and needs of your business, helping you make the most of your apprenticeship levy funds. Good training providers should be able to support you by identifying training priorities and mapping these to existing apprenticeship standards, providing advice on accessing funds, managing a supply chain for specialist training, delivering programmes and organising end point assessments.

Your chosen training provider can also support you by ensuring programmes are tailored to the organisation or individual. Apprenticeship standards can be adapted or contextualised to ensure training is wholly relevant, meets the needs of your business and delivers real return on investment.

4. An opportunity to re-energize your workforce

The importance of investing in your workforce cannot be stressed enough. The apprenticeship levy can be used to develop existing staff, with many valuable benefits for your organisation. This could be done in several ways, for example by providing career pathways to retain talented individuals or investing in key skills.

Investing in the staff you already have can serve to motivate and re-energize your workforce. A successful learning and development strategy can increase productivity and retention rates, bridge any skills gaps, build company loyalty and ultimately have a positive impact on your company’s reputation.

5. Get advice on off-the-job training

A big concern for many employers is the 20% off-the-job training requirement. This is commonly misunderstood and doesn’t necessarily mean offsite on day release. For example, training could take the form of webinars, work shadowing, conferences, mentoring, distance learning or personal reflection.

With all the different options available to you, it’s important you get assistance from training providers to deliver an effective development programme. This could include a mixed commitment of time from your business and your provider, or the full 20% being delivered by your training provider alone. Consider what works best for your business and apprentice before carrying out any training.

6. Take advantage of co-investment

Even after you’ve exhausted your apprenticeship levy funds you can take advantage of the government’s ‘co-investment’ scheme. Following a reform in early 2019, you’ll only need to contribute 5% towards the cost of any additional apprenticeship training and assessment not covered by your apprenticeship levy – the government will pay the remaining 95%.

This scheme provides a further incentive to invest in learning and development, widening the training opportunities your business can offer. It can also be used to offset your original training budget, effectively saving you money.

7. Consider using the apprenticeship levy transfer facility

Did you know that as a levy-paying employer, you’re able to transfer up to 25% of your funds to other companies, including those within your supply chain? This provides a great opportunity for you to enhance partnerships, develop the training needs of your suppliers, bridge a gap in their skill set or generally increase the flexibility of your apprenticeship levy spend.

Seetec Outsource is one of the UK’s leading apprenticeship training providers. From digital media, business administration and leadership to logistics and aviation, we provide tailored apprenticeship recruitment and programme management services to the private and public sector. To find out more about our apprenticeship services, or to book a free, no-obligation consultation, contact us today.