Does the apprenticeship levy develop the next generation of worker? In my view, the answer is yes! Although there’s some amends to the levy that could make it more productive, all in all, it really is helping develop the future generation of workers.
Since April 2017, if an organisation earns in excess of £3 million annually, then they will pay the apprenticeship levy to help fund new and existing apprenticeships.
In the news, there are many views about the apprenticeship levy and it's impact. It was never going to be easy implementing such a large levy that would affect so many organisations. And although it comes with some challenges, the changes it has and will bring about are for the better.
Over the last two years, the levy has not only affected the ways in which organisations buy apprenticeship training, but it has also affected how training providers deliver their training.
Procurement and the apprenticeship levy
Procurement played a key part in the changes required to develop the apprenticeship levy and it was completely underestimated. Colleges and universities aren’t used to bidding for apprenticeship training and they are some of the more important organisations involved with delivering the apprenticeship standards. Especially in key public sector roles such as policing, nursing and adult social workers.
A large procurement for these types of services can take up to a year and even smaller procurement processes can still take several months. This procurement process will have had an impact on the number of apprenticeship uptakes in the first few years of the levy. However, based on our figures, the numbers are only likely to grow across the whole of the public sector.
The next generation of worker
Initially we saw organisations frantically trying to spend their levy (we all did the same) as we didn't want to lose it. But in the last 12 months there has been a considerable shift in the public sector. Public sector organisations across the UK are working together to prepare future generations of workers, YPO included. Organisations are recruiting apprenticeship managers, as well as the strategies being developed. The levy is being spent in a way that is making significant improvements for the future.
Although we have already begun making changes in the public sector with the levy, we need to be aware of some challenges we face. As a sector we need to improve the apprenticeship process in the future, we need to look to challenge:
- The predicted over-spend needs to be challenges and reviewed by the government
- Suitable funding bands need to be in place for some of the key standards that will develop our next generation
- The wages of apprentice’s and how this could be supported needs to be reviewed, especially for smaller organisations.
- An incentive needs to be in place to motivate organisations to procure standards that will support our skill shortages in the future.
- We need to develop school leavers knowledge of apprenticeships and the career paths it may lead them to
This is only a few of the challenges we should be taking on to make improvements in the apprenticeships sector. We need to work together to review, develop and enhance a levy that was put in place for all of the right reasons. It is a long-term evolution of the apprenticeships sector that we need to believe in, looking beyond the short-term issues.
Looking to the future
Creating the apprenticeship levy was never going to be a quick win. Instead, it's about developing the next generation of worker and seeing the bigger picture.
We are working towards a better set of skilled individuals in the future. Investing in developing our nurses, growing our social workers and expanding our emergency services and security. The public sector is embracing the apprenticeship levy, and we should be proud of this.