As we approach the two-year anniversary of the apprenticeship levy, I still meet clients who haven’t embraced the opportunity. I hear “it’s all too complicated”, “its just not for us”, “I didn’t realise you could use it for that” or “I can’t have my colleagues out of the office for 20% of the week”.

But the world of skills is moving fast. 92% of UK businesses say they’ll need people with skills that are not currently in the business within the next five years*. And with a no-deal Brexit still a possibility, acute skills challenges may make themselves felt even sooner than that.

The apprenticeship levy offers a great opportunity and the means to plug skills gaps now and in the future. National Apprenticeship Week offers the perfect opportunity to dispel some myths and get everyone embracing apprenticeships as part of a wider talent strategy…

 “Apprenticeship are only for recruiting young people”. There are no age limits on apprenticeships. More and more employers are using apprenticeships to upskill existing colleagues at all levels across the organisation. With qualifications right up to masters level, including MBAs and professional qualifications such as CIMA, there is definite opportunity to develop colleagues regardless of their age.

“20% off the job training is prohibitive”. Apprentices do require 20% of their contracted hours to include off the job training. As such, there must be a genuine training requirement for the role and the individual – there is no getting around that. However, off the job does not mean out of the office. With increasingly advanced blended learning platforms, there is real flexibility on when and where learners access their training. Talk to a training provider to find out how they can design a programme to meet your needs – it’s your money after all!

“Apprentices aren’t right for our business, we need the finished article”. This week technology giant Amazon announced that they would be creating 1,000 full time apprentices in the UK by 2021. These will be well-paid jobs and the apprentices will be adding value to the business.

“Apprenticeships are for people not bright enough to go to university”. With the quality of apprenticeships now on offer from a whole range of impressive companies, young people have genuine choice, when they come to leave school. Many young people are choosing to enter the world of work much earlier and continue learning whilst they earn a wage. Rather than being saddled with thousands of pounds of debt, the country’s best young talent are increasingly attracted to earning and learning.

“If I train my colleagues, they will just leave!” What if you don’t train them and they stay?

So as business leaders what can we do about this? Smart organisations are using apprentices to develop the skills they need now and for the future. 

We are offering informal 1-1 conversations with our specialists to understand how you can ensure you are making the most of your apprenticeship levy. Sign-up for a location suited to you and we will be in touch to arrange a suitable time.

It’s an approach that Grant Thornton has benefitted from. Around 10% of our 5,000 people in the UK are currently on apprenticeship schemes including Levels 3, 4 and 7 accountancy and taxation, Level 3 Business Administration, Level 6 Risk and Compliance and Level 7 Leadership and Management through our partnership with Cranfield.

Building on our own experience, Grant Thornton has helped over 2000 organisation to make the most of their levy. As of February 2019, we are working with over 430 organisations who are sponsoring more than 800 learners through various apprenticeship programmes with providers such as Cranfield University, Babington, Activate and WhiteHat.

Visit our website to learn about how the apprenticeship levy can help your business get the skills it needs to thrive

*People Power Report, October 2018