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Levy launch is a landmark for government’s apprenticeships campaign


AS MANY businesses, employers and entrepreneurs are aware, April represents a major landmark in the government’s drive towards there being three million apprenticeships by 2020; namely, the launch of the apprenticeship levy.

All employers in the UK with a wage bill over £3 million will be compelled to contribute to the levy. Government will hold 0.5% of the employer’s annual wage bill, which can be drawn down to spend on apprenticeship training programmes through accredited providers.

To support this, the government will be topping up the fund with a 10% contribution.

In the course of my work at Milton Keynes College, I regularly come into contact with a variety of employers and business owners, some of whom are very clued up on how to make the best use of the apprenticeship levy. Others, however, have yet to realise the opportunity it offers.

Businesses that have not traditionally employed staff on an apprenticeship basis, either through tradition or industry, might only see the levy as an additional tax. However, with some creative thinking and support from external providers, the levy can easily be used in areas of businesses not normally considered in this way.

An example of this would be the new Leadership and Management Apprenticeships which Milton Keynes College, in conjunction with the Institute of Leadership and Management, is launching on March 30 – another opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to developing skills in demand by industry.

Many of the reservations around apprenticeships come from their reputation as only being applicable for young people looking to work in trades. I came across some research recently that goes against this view, particularly looking at recently started apprenticeships, indicating what the future might hold.

According to a House of Commons briefing paper from last year, just over 500,000 apprenticeships were started in 2015/16 and there were a total of 900,000 in place at that time. Of those, 54% were in two areas: Business, Administration & Law and Health, Public Service & Care which proves that apprenticeships are definitely for more people than just plumbers and electricians.

Also, 44% of new apprentices were over the age of 25 and 53% were female, indicating that there are genuinely opportunities for all-comers and that the recent removal of age restrictions is beginning to take effect.

The demand to retrain and upskill will continue to affect the need for apprenticeships. The  employment market has shifted dramatically from a world where people on average do three or four jobs in their lifetime to one where they will have around 35, demonstrating a desire to seek out new challenges.

In the coming months, I would expect this kind of cross-section to develop with businesses using their levy monies to fulfil existing development goals, but perhaps in slightly different ways to their original plans.

Ahead of the launch of the levy, Milton Keynes College will be taking part in two high-profile events:

National Apprenticeship Week, March 6-10.

The National Apprenticeship Show March 13-14, ArenaMK

As an accredited provider, the college’s dedicated Apprenticeships Team is perfectly position to provide support, answer queries and develop bespoke training packages for companies of all sizes.

To discover ways of working partnership with Milton Keynes College and The Business & Leadership Centre, e-mail business.centre@mkcollege.ac.uk , call 01908 684520 or visit www.mkcollege.ac.uk