We should all be aware by now that the government is introducing an apprenticeship levy to fund an increase in the quality and quantity of apprentices in the UK.
The apprenticeship levy applies to all employers operating in the UK with an annual pay bill of over £3 million and is charged at a rate of 0.5% of an employer’s annual pay bill.
If the employer of the staff in your school is the local authority, a governing body which controls more than one school, or a multi-academy trust with an annual pay bill of more than £3 million, you will contribute to the levy through your payroll provider. Some faith schools will be exempt from the levy, where the employer is deemed to be the governing body and the total pay bill is less than £3 million.
Many schools see this as an additional cost to an already stretched school budget but the government is committed to all public sector bodies increasing the number of apprentices in their workforce.
Tips for implementing the Apprenticeship Levy
- Change your mind-set about apprenticeships – think ‘employees doing apprenticeship qualifications’ rather than ‘employing apprentices’. Remember that you can use apprenticeship qualifications for existing as well as new employees
- Consider apprenticeships as part of overall workforce planning
- Be clear about how your apprenticeship training will be funded. If you are paying into the levy fund then you will need to register to access the funding
- Think about whether the use of apprenticeship qualifications will work in your school, particularly bearing in mind that you will need to demonstrate that the qualification will provide the employee with significant new learning, that there may be eligibility criteria, that there needs to be a strong probability that there will be a job at the end of it and that the employee will need to spend time off the job, undertaking the training
- Remember that the levy can only be used for new apprenticeships that start from 1st May 2017 onwards and only for the training and assessment – not salary or other employer costs – but it can be used for existing as well as new employees
- Be aware that each qualification has a funding band which is the maximum that can be taken from the levy fund
- Unused levy funds will remain available for use until April 2019
- A range of apprenticeships are currently being developed, these include: teaching apprenticeship; school business manager apprenticeship; teaching assistant apprenticeship; and early years apprenticeship. There are many apprenticeship frameworks available to use now, however these are being superseded by standards. Your school should use the new standards if they are available as all the frameworks will be withdrawn by 2020.
Authored by Ian Clark.