Benn Carson, Carson Recruitment

Back in March, with the Apprenticeship Levy imminent, I wrote about the potential effects on recruitment, and gave my opinion that employers would begin paying very close attention to their apprenticeship schemes, demanding higher quality programs and services from their training partners. Almost three months into the Levy, and the signs are showing that I might be right.

You may think more eyes on apprenticeships may would lead to cost-cutting; weary employers trying to minimize the impact of the Levy itself. On the contrary: employers are doing exactly as the government wants and expects them to do - pay attention to the quality of their programs, ensuring they remain desirable to would-be apprentices.

For training providers, this means upping their game significantly. As I predicted, training contracts would now be handed out on merit, not on contacts and relationships. And to win contracts on merit, that can only mean one thing: improving the standard of courses delivered to clients across the country - which means recruiting the right staff has never been more important.

This shift has been too much for some. OFSTED have been circling, under pressure of their own, and have come down with a heavy boot, branding some providers “inadequate”, while others have gone out of business altogether, unable to survive the brutal demand for change over the past six months.

The signs for employees across the board, though, are promising. Assessors, as an example, are in high demand, as providers flock to have their new, improved courses rubber-stamped by clients. In the 3 months since the Levy was introduced, salaries have increased dramatically. There are enough Assessors in the market; though clearly, not enough great Assessors. Demand is outweighing supply, and the ball is in the employee’s court, if they’re willing to work hard enough to take the ball.

The trickle-down effect of the Levy is enormous, and in one sense, just what the industry needs. Training providers are evidently upping their game, nervous of the eagle-eyed OFSTED, who are watching on intently. Employers are quite rightly demanding better bang for their buck. Assessors and other staff are sharpening their toolsets, knowing that while the bar has been raised, salaries and demand for their services have too. And let’s not forget the apprentices themselves - they can expect to see a significant difference in the quality of training they receive.

As in most cases of business, it’s simple: the strong will survive and thrive, and the weak will fall away.

Benn Carson, Carson Recruitment

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