The Apprenticeship Levy a Year On.

Over a year has passed since the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy and it is no exaggeration to say that discussion surrounding the policy’s success has been rife.

Despite being touted by the government as the ‘solution to widening the skills gap in the UK’ many businesses have criticised the reform and question its impact for businesses.

I continue to believe that the Apprenticeship Levy should be seen as a positive and progressive step for businesses in general and the wider economy as a whole. Not only has the levy offered an excellent opportunity for businesses to invest in their workforce through hiring new staff, developing existing employees and shaping their skills to the requirements of the company, it’s also key in enforcing social mobility and allowing people the chance to enter the workforce who may not have been able to do so otherwise.

Productivity

Productivity was a key deliverable on the government’s agenda when the reform was introduced. The aim was to allow businesses to create a pipeline of talent and provide on-the-job training to equip employees with vocation skills necessary for the workforce.

One year on and we’re already seeing these benefits here at Barclays. Our apprentices contribute a huge productivity impact to the business, with each apprentice contributing £18,000 of net productivity gains over the course of their programme. This boost not only benefits the apprentices themselves, and of course our business, it also impacts the whole economy and helps to narrow the skills gap between the UK and its competitors abroad – an issue of growing importance in these uncertain political and economic times.

Confusion

Despite the success we have had at Barclays, many companies have expressed confusion at the levy and have been at a loss as to how they should utilise it to the advantage of their business.

The general perception is that it must be used to employ and train new talent; whilst this a key aim for the levy, existing staff can also be trained using the levy pot, offering companies the opportunity to expand their workforce and develop existing staff.

I would advise companies to look in to the range of apprenticeships available, as there are many different levels of apprenticeships to invest in. I believe that apprenticeships should offer opportunity for everyone, no matter their experience or educational level.

Lower level qualifications play a crucial role in helping individuals build core level entry level skills, however there is also room for higher apprenticeships which are absolutely key in boosting productivity, improving earnings potential and helping the skills shortage.

Although the Apprenticeship Levy is not perfect, it is a strong step in the right direction for training a better workforce in this country, so I implore companies and individuals to take this opportunity and use it as best they can.

The reform is still in it’s infancy, and I firmly believe that it this is only the beginning of great things to come for our country’s workforce.

Mike Thompson, Head of Apprenticeships at Barclays

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