Team conversation

The current skills shortage is affecting all sectors. PWC quote that the need to upskill and reskill the workforce has never been more urgent. As the demand for new capabilities grows, organisations need to equip their people with the knowledge and skills to be agile and adapt to changes in their existing roles.

Coinciding with this challenge is fierce competition to attract talent. The CIPD has reported this week that 45% of employers have hard to fill vacancies; resulting in businesses increasing salaries, offering more flexible working styles, and looking to upskill their existing workforce.

Rather than struggling to find fresh faces, some organisations are opting to upskill their current staff. You can align training with the organisation’s growth strategy – helping to future-proof your business.

Your team can develop the skills and capabilities to be a key driver in their own success. As well as guide others to succeed, develop and reach their potential.

Preparing employees for future roles needs to start today – could apprenticeships be the way to do so in your organisation?

In 2017, came the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy. The main goal was to increase productivity and develop the necessary capabilities and skills within businesses of all sizes. The Apprenticeship Levy is often seen simply as a tax on business. But it’s so much more than that! It’s an opportunity for development, progression, and growth, for both your employees and the wider business.

The government have considered that not all employers are going to reach the threshold to pay into the levy pot. But would still like the opportunity to widen their talent pool and upskill their team.

Recent reforms to the Apprenticeship Levy in 2021 mean that SMEs will only ever need to contribute up to 5% of the total costs of an apprenticeship.

As it currently stands, businesses with an annual wage bill that exceeds £3 million contribute to the apprenticeship levy. Any funds that are not spent, expire after 24 months and are returned to the government. This currently is around 2% of businesses.

The funds that are not spent within ‘levy paying’ organisations are then transferred to smaller businesses. The ‘co-investment’ scheme means that 95% of the total cost of an apprentice’s training is covered by the government, through available levy funds, and the employer will cover the remaining 5%. This is usually around £350.

Here are a few reasons why Discovery believe that companies should take advantage of the available funds, and begin to secure optimal benefits for their employees and wider business.

The regeneration of Apprenticeships:

For a long time, the term apprenticeship has been perceived by companies as a career path for younger people, often aged between 16-19 years old. The introduction of the apprenticeship levy has presented an opportunity for businesses to flip this mentality on its head. Many employers have embraced the apprenticeship levy as a great opportunity to develop their team’s knowledge, skills and behaviours – regardless of their age, experience, or position in a business. In fact, in 2019/20, almost half (47%) of apprenticeship starts were people aged 25 or over.

The Skills Funding Agency found that 80% of companies that invest in apprenticeships report an increase in staff retention. This statistic proves that learners develop a sense of loyalty to a company that contributes to their future.

Modern apprenticeships have been designed “by the industry, for the industry”.

Groups of employers, working in a specific sector, have come together to design standards and assessment plans based on the real-world requirements of an occupation. This approach has resulted in apprenticeship standards that are aligned to the needs of actual employers and will provide learners with the knowledge, skills and behaviours that will make a genuine difference in their day-to-day performance.

To meet apprenticeship levy funding criteria, the apprenticeship must last a minimum of 12 months and the apprentice must engage in 20% off-the-job learning.

Off-the-Job Learning (but in reality, it is ‘on’ the job)

The 20% off-the-job learning is a fantastic opportunity for your team to enhance their learning away from the ‘classroom’ – you’ll be surprised how many activities actually feel like they’re ‘on’ the job! The training must take place within usual working hours and will be relevant to the learners’ programme and job role. It will concentrate on acquiring new skills, knowledge, and behaviours. The primary goal is to encourage your team to embed their learning back into your business, as well as stimulate continuous learning through work-based activities.

A few examples include listening to podcasts, attending webinars, conducting research, mentoring/shadowing a colleague, or coaching sessions.

Discovery understands that many businesses do not have the budget, resources, or in-house expertise, to implement this on their own.

As experts in recruitment and development, Discovery deliver apprenticeship programmes, including leadership and management, sales and customer service for those looking to obtain real business change.

We start by helping delegates to understand themselves better. Our coaches and mentors distinguish what motivates them, their perceived strengths, and weaknesses, right through to analysing and identifying the impact their behaviour may have on those around them.

We build the skills, knowledge and behaviours that support delegates in their day-to-day roles as well as prepare them for future roles they aspire to hold within your business.

Our programmes are aligned to the apprenticeship standards. This means they can all be funded using the apprenticeship levy and the co-investment model.

On Wednesday 25th May at 10:45 am, join Raj, Director of Programmes and Apprenticeship Learning, as she explains in this 15-minute webinar how you can improve your team’s performance (and secure 95% funding). Raj will explain what the apprenticeship levy is, how apprenticeships can reimagine your workforce, and how this can solve some of your wider business challenges. Register your place here:

If you’re looking to transform your workforce, get in touch with the Discovery team on 0121 665 4060, or book an appointment.