Why using the Apprenticeship Levy is no-brainer

The Apprenticeship Levy is just brilliant. It means that I now have a training budget that no CFO can put their red pen through. That is phenomenal. Not only that, but the more successful we are as an organisation and the bigger we get, the bigger my training budget gets and no CFO has any say over that either. It really is amazing. It's the first time ever in my L&D career that my training budget doesn’t get red pen through it so I want to say a big thank you to the Government and to the Chancellor for giving me such an amazing training spend.

However, there are lots of misconceptions about the Levy and lots of people don’t think it’s brilliant. Why? Well, it’s partly the Government’s fault. The Government promised that it would spend huge amounts on marketing to help change the perception of what the word apprentice means and they haven’t. And now we have a 59% downturn in the take-up of apprenticeship funding. There’s not so much as a sniff out there about what’s going on with the Levy and I’m really disappointed about that.

This has had implications, even for people like me who are sold on the Levy. Why? It meant we had to work really hard internally at telling people what the Levy is for and why it’s a good thing. There’s been a lot of stigma to overcome and it’s all had to happen internally.

We’re taking the approach that the Levy gives people choices and opens up opportunities. It’s a professional fund that helps people and organisations.

The Levy is basically a training pot which we can use to develop our people further. We have complete control over where the money goes and who it goes to. Programmes are written by us for us and are delivered the way that we want. The new apprenticeship standards are written by industry for industry, approved by the industry and rubber stamped by the Government.

It makes our people more skilled, more committed to us and more able to deliver what we need for our customers. Again, that is phenomenal and we’ve made great use of the scheme already. We have mapped 250 qualifications that can now all be funded through the Levy, qualifications that historically we supported our people with to the tune of nearly £1.5 million.

Also, we can now overspend on training and we won’t get stung. It’s like having an overdraft without any consequences. If we spend more than my allowance, then the Chancellor will help us pay off that overspend by covering 90% of the cost. It’s crazy but brilliant.

What I would love to know is what other people are doing with regards to the Levy. Those who are using it, how are they using it? To upscale their existing people or purely to recruit 18 to 24 year olds into the business? I think most organisations who have previously run apprenticeships programme are still using it the same way they did before. I’d love to know if other people are using it like I am. But most organisations have indicated that they are not going to use it at all, meaning that they are not going to support the aspirations about the GDP target. That is really disappointing.

L&D can and should do something about that. Creating value is one of the pillar functions of L&D and I firmly believe that the Levy presents L&D with such a huge opportunity to create value for the business. Why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of such a great opportunity and at no extra cost to yourself? It’s a no brainer.