Using the apprenticeship levy to train existing staff

Whilst the levy is doing an incredible job of motivating business owners to discover and invest in fresh talent, many employers are utilising the apprenticeship levy to address skill gaps within their existing workforce – accessing levy funding to upskill and develop their existing staff.

And, let’s face it, in an age where 77% of CEOs see the unavailability of key skills as the biggest threat to their business and only 13% of senior execs have confidence in the rising leaders in their firm – using the levy to address skills gaps within your existing workforce has never been more critical.  And yet, in 2019, more than £133 million of levy funds were unspent.

So, we’re giving you the low down on all the key things you need to know to start maximising your levy funding…

Can the apprenticeship levy be used to train existing staff?

Absolutely!  There’s a common misconception that apprenticeships are only available for school leavers or those in manual industries, but that’s far from the case.  It’s time to let go of the traditional view of what an apprentice is (especially for those of you begrudgingly handing over your 0.5% levy contributions, but with ‘no apprentices’ within your organisation).  So, here’s the headline – anyone can be an apprentice!

In fact, the term ‘apprenticeship’ actually refers to a highly intensive training and qualification opportunity; one which can be used with new or existing employees alike. 16 or 116, professional apprenticeships work in the same way, with funding allowing you to train anyone over the age of 16, in any industry.

What’s more, the funding’s not just available for ‘new starters’, with many organisations opting to use the levy to fund further development within their existing workforce. So, whether you’re looking to train new employees requiring specific skills to meet the needs of your business or looking for development to enable existing employees to climb higher up the career ladder furthering their expertise, confidence or gain a qualification – the levy funding is available to support staff across your business.

Why use apprenticeship levy funding to train existing staff?

With training and talent teams often challenged to do ‘more with less’, the levy funding offers organisations a real opportunity to upskill their existing workforce – in many cases at almost no cost!

Are there any specific requirements?

  • The apprenticeship levy funding allows you to train anyone over the age of 16, with no upper age limit in place.
  • Training must meet an approved apprenticeship standard, allow the employee to acquire new skills and the content of the training must be materially different from any prior training or apprenticeship that individual has attended.

What happens to unspent levy funds?

“Use it or lose it” is the cry. Employers have 24 months to use their funds, after this point their funds will expire. That means that if you received your funds in September 2020, you have until September 2022 to spend them. The funds expire to encourage levy paying employers to invest in high-quality training and assessment and to prevent levy payers from accruing very large balances. 

So, to summarise; whether you’re looking to address skills gaps within your organisation, future-proof the capabilities of your workforce or create a more motivated, well trained and driven staff base – the levy funding is available to support you in doing just that, ensuring your staff are equipped with the knowledge and skills to thrive now and in the future.

If you’re one of a growing number of organisations looking to utilise your levy funding to support new managers, emerging talent or future leaders, get in touch – or find out more about our apprenticeship solution.

By Ivy House London
3rd February 2021

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