Everything you wanted to know about apprenticeships – but were afraid to ask!

So, you’ve looked at the Government’s apprenticeship scheme – and find it, shall we say, a tad confusing.

Here at Swatpro we have experts at guiding you through the tangled jargon of apprenticeships – and getting you the training, you want via our partnership of highly experienced and fully accredited partner organisations, all of whom are approved to meet the rigorous standards the Government demands.

Let’s start with some basics:

I don’t see the need for apprentices

Well, if you have a payroll bill of more than £3m in England, you will be paying for them, regardless. The Apprenticeship Levy collects 0.5% of your wage bill via HMRC and uses the cash to fund apprenticeships. If your business falls into this category, you may as well use your money rather than lose it. You have 24 months to do so, before your money goes into the general “pot”. Why subsidise training at other firms? You get back 110% of your costs, so are effectively paid to use up your Levy money. What’s not to like?!

I’m not looking to recruit new people

Not a problem. The Apprenticeship scheme covers the upskilling of current staff, as well as the recruitment of new trainees. Providing you are offering your staff new knowledge or skills, this is an acceptable way to spend your Levy “pot”. And who doesn’t want more knowledgeable staff.

Is it just about young people?

No. Apprentices can be any age. With the working years now expanded, more than a quarter are now over 50. Many employees find these older apprentices bring useful life experience to their teams.

My business is too small to pay the Apprenticeship Levy, but I still would like to take on an apprentice: Is there cash for me?

In a word, yes. Depending on your company’s size, funding can pay for 95% of apprenticeship costs, rising to 100% if you’re a small (49 or less employees) company taking on a 16- to 18-year-old in this role.

There are also one-off payments to encourage small enterprises who do not currently have apprentices to join the scheme, as well as grants for offering apprenticeships to certain groups of people – such as those who have been under local authority care. Swatpro can explain these categories in more detail.

It’s worth noting that the 5% SME’s contribute towards apprenticeships is still a better way of getting staff trained than simply sending staff to get an NVQ.

Won’t apprentices be off studying all the time? I need hands “at the coal face”

Fear not, your apprentices will spend 80% of their time with you. The current requirement is for 20% “off-the-job” training. This could be in a block release, on a set daily pattern or via occasional workshops, whatever suits you. Such training need not be theoretical: The Government’s definition includes practical training, mentoring/shadowing and industry visits. Swatpro can explain how the “20% rule” need not limit your business.

I’ve employed young people before and not been too impressed with their literacy or numeracy

Well, improving on this area has been the Department for Education’s number one target and young people can now not leave education until they meet a minimum standard. Money is available through the apprentice scheme for those taken on who need extra help with English and/or maths.

I have some critical companies in my supply chain and I’d like to share my Apprentice Levy with them. Can I?

Yes, you can share 10% of your Levy with other businesses. This can be a good way of improving inter-business relationship, and it ensures unused funds are not wasted.

I want to take on apprentices on an ongoing basis, rather than just for 24-months

There is cash funding for this, even after you Apprenticeship Levy “pot” has been exhausted. Up to 95% of costs can be recouped, if you meet the criteria.

And lastly, the big question: How can Swatpro help?

With the Government target set at 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020, there are a lot of new providers in the training business. But at Swatpro, we have the experience to help you.

With decades spent working in the field, we know the best way to provide training is by working closely with employers and tailoring training to meet their specific needs. And as an umbrella organisation, we can provide this service in many different sectors of the economy. Currently, our partners operate training schemes in:

  • Accountancy
  • Animal Care and Welfare
  • Business Administration
  • Clinical Health (hospitals)
  • Construction
  • Customer Service
  • Digital (Cyber Security & Network Infrastructure)
  • Digital Marketing
  • Early Years Education
  • Engineering
  • Health & Social Care
  • Hospitality and Catering
  • Information Technology
  • Leadership & Management
  • Outdoors, Leisure and Events
  • Retail