Apprenticeship levy funds are stockpiling to the tune of £1.28 billion

Apprenticeship levy funds are stockpiling to the tune of £1.28 billion


£1.28billion. It’s a figure that’s come from analysis conducted by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (which they’ve accessed through the Freedom of Information Act). There’s no getting away from the fact that that’s a massive amount of money. What’s more, employers have been told that if they don’t “pick up the pace”, they could lose up to £139m per month. And that’s because any funding that exists in the National Apprenticeship Service accounts after 24 months will expire. And what a terrible waste this would be, as this money should be spent on training and development that will help future-proof their businesses.

Yet with the OU’s report suggesting it can take up to nine months to get an apprenticeship programme up and running, it feels this may be the case for at least some of these stockpiled funds. And with 30% of business leaders who have accessed the funding saying that the process was more time consuming than they expected, that’s another reason as to why employers might not get back what they put in. It all goes to show how important it is that employers need to make sure they allocate plenty of time if they’re paying apprenticeship levy. However it’s time well invested, given what’s at stake.

David Willett, Corporate Director at The Open University said “With such a huge amount being paid into the apprenticeship levy, it’s essential that employers in England get return on investment by embracing apprenticeships.

“As an industry, we appreciate there have been some teething issues, but we’re here to help business leaders work through it and develop programmes that best fit their needs, allowing them to fill skills gaps and future-proof their organisations against the changing world around them.”

Despite the teething problems, 92% of levy-paying businesses are still backing the apprenticeship levy in principle, although 43% would like to see some changes to what they see as barriers to apprenticeship take-up.

The barrier of greatest concern (beyond the above), is around the availability and flexibility of programmes. 24% of business leaders agreed that apprenticeship standards need to be approved more quickly by the Institute for Apprenticeships, as the delays they face limits the training options available to them.

The other main barrier that employers are worried about revolves around the resources needed. 15% are concerned over the resources needed to develop an apprenticeship strategy; 16% are deterred by the resource needed to research providers and programmes (16%); and 11% stated that managing an apprenticeship process is a full-time job – something they can’t afford.

Mr Willett went on to say, “While it’s encouraging that the majority of business leaders agree with the levy in principle, it’s clear that adjustments are needed to make the levy work harder for employers.

“The lack of flexibility needs to be urgently addressed to ensure that organisations get value for money, and we think that modular apprenticeships, which allow organisations to develop tailor-made programmes that fit their specific needs, could be an attractive solution for both employers and the UK government.”

Thursday, 12 April 2018

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