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The Apprenticeship Levy, One Year On: 5 Key Lessons We Should All Know

One year on from the government’s introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, many organisations are still unsure of how they can best benefit from the new system.

The new standards are here to stay, so why not join us in embracing all that the Levy does have to offer;

'Personal development, when applied over time, guarantees improved performance and a more skilled and motivated workforce for your organisation.'

Are you playing catch up? Undoubtedly, there could have been greater efforts by the government to explain the Apprenticeship Levy process to employers before it was introduced, so that businesses were ready to begin utilising funds right from day one. Moreover, an unacceptable number of Apprenticeship Standards are still awaiting approval, delaying plans for some sectors to start apprenticeships specific to their skills-needs.

That said, whilst the current total of funds allocated is pitiful, there is a sense that the new apprenticeships are gaining traction, and perhaps, just in time before the funds are lost from year two onwards.

Change begins at the top…

Today, more than ever, we all need strong, confident leaders to make a positive influence in the workplace; not simply 'accidental', ‘untrained’ or ‘reluctant’ and often described as 'mushroom managers'.

After many years of leadership decline, organisations are now starting to utilise the levy by developing leadership and management skills at all levels, building more transparent and cohesive teams.

"Only with great people and great processes may we be great!"

- Nick Horan, Project Director, SML

Whatever your opinion, if you believe that Developing People Matter™ then the Apprenticeship Levy is an unprecedented opportunity for you to invest in your talent, today, for the future success of your organisation and its people.

"It’s all in the Set-Up, Developing the Right Habits early, and Evidencing the Return on Investment…"

We believe training providers need to play a key role in supporting the Set-Up process for employers and their learners by maintaining a professional and transparent relationship. SML has first-hand experience in establishing meaningful relationships with all personnel, benefiting them with a variety of initiatives throughout each programme.

Employers simply need that helping hand to get the process underway and then they will see the full benefit of utilising the levy. We have certainly found this to be the case; and having seen noticeable improvements from when they started the programme just a few months ago, one of our clients has now commenced a second leadership cohort - how fantastic is that!

5 Key Points We Have Learned About the Levy Over the Past Year:

1. Firstly, calling it the 'Apprenticeship Levy' is misleading.

  • It should more accurately be named, the ‘Training and Development Levy’ as it can all be spent on upskilling existing employees of all ages and experience! Why spend resources finding new talent when you already have the best?

  • The new standards range from entry level basics right up to a master’s degree level (Level 7) in many different sectors and areas of development, meaning no matter what stage learners are in their career, we believe there is always room for development, so why not let them take advantage of the levy to ‘be the best they can be’.

  • Our lives are changing at a more rapid rate that ever before, and we must be agile in our approach to cope with new technologies, climates and challenges no one has ever faced. If we continue to learn and develop, we can be ready for anything.

2. The Levy is effectively just a tax…

  • UNTIL you reclaim it in the form of Apprenticeship Standards

  • 1.28 billion out of 1.39 billion remains in government-held levy funds! – ‘use it’ or begin to ‘lose it’ from April 2019.

3. The Levy is best placed within a Learning Culture

  • The success of the new standards is dependent on the application of knowledge, skills and behaviours into the workplace; only by actively learning and practising can any of us hope to get better at anything! Think smart, think differently. ‘

  • Apprenticeships’ must last a minimum of 372 days, meaning that the organisation has to be committed to developing their people for a prolonged period. Only with time can skills become embedded and beneficial to our working habits or processes.

  • Because of this, it is vital that learners gain the full support of their line managers and the decision makers above them. Only with full backing can learners succeed in their 20% OTJ Learning and complete these apprenticeships – which in turn brings invaluable benefits to the organisation as a whole!

  • We have already seen vast improvements from our learners who are beginning to challenge the processes within their organisation through Action Learning Sets and make positive changes to improve productivity and performance.

4. 20% OTJ Learning is Necessary for Personal Development So, what exactly does off-the-job learning mean? Well for starters, it does not mean out of the office! The requirement is for 20% of an employee’s total contracted working hours over the course of the apprenticeship. Speak to us or watch our Snippet to discover our definition of what constitutes as Off-The-Job Learning! – “it really works!”)

  • This is a big issue for many organisations, but perhaps most for those organisations who do not have some form of CPD in place for its employees. How can staff really hope to improve themselves if they are not permitted the time to think, learn and reflect on how things could be done even better. This is the real purpose of the 20% rule, and without this, it is difficult to envision how things can improve in our hectic modern-day work lives.

  • We propose that it is more to do with our conscious and subconscious actions, and how we manage our own time. We strongly believe that many of us learn new things every day without really recognising that we are in fact learning.

  • We have identified 16 different types of activities which count towards the 20% Off the Job Learning – and OneFile Eportfolio makes it quick and simple to upload and record evidence for OTJ Learning. (Get in touch to see our snippet on this topic!)

5. Tailoring to Your Needs: Coaching and Support are Crucial to the Success you Seek

  • We have invested an enormous amount of time in getting to grips with the Levy as it develops and fully understand that for it to be a success, organisations need support from their training provider to not only understand the levy process but to turn it into meaningful action towards specific organisational outcomes. We support you every step of the way with our dedicated team of SML Coaches

  • To reach completion, it is fundamental that learners are supported throughout their learning journey, both by their line managers and the training provider. Coaching is a key part of all apprenticeship programmes with SML, helping to build confidence and motivate learners throughout the programme with frequent 1-1 and group coaching sessions, as well as 24/7 contact via phone, email, OneFile and Zoom.

Get in touch to learn more about how SML can help you make the most of the levy and the 20% OTJ Learning rule, or why not come along to our next ‘Leadership and the Levy’ Forum.

Choose Square Mile Leadership to develop your Leadership and Management talent today - before someone else does!

Compiled by Ione Asher 18/05/2018


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