Are you using your Apprenticeship Levy?
The Apprenticeship Levy was introduced in April 2017 as a means of helping create more than 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020. This funding will start to expire after 24 months, that means from 1st April 2019 levy paying employers will start losing funds from their digital accounts. Estimates vary of how much of this funding is unspent, but it is thought to be around £1.3 billion at risk.
We know that a significant proportion of the conservation workforce are sole traders or work for small businesses and so are not subject to the levy, however, at the same time there are a large number of employers who are paying the levy and are looking for ways to spend it before they start to lose access to their funds.
What is the Apprenticeship Levy?
The Apprenticeship Levy was introduced in April 2017. It targets employers who have a pay bill in excess of £3 million per year. This is to be paid at 0.5% of the pay bill less a £15,000 levy allowance. The government will top up the account by 10%, giving a total amount of £11,000 available for the employers to fund their apprenticeship delivery. This is to be held in their own Digital Apprenticeship Service Account. For employers using the levy, the funds will be taken from their digital accounts, and paid to the training provider. Once the funds have been used, it is proposed that they will need to contribute 10% of the funds to the training provider, and the government will fund the rest.
For those employers whose pay bill falls below the threshold, there is no requirement to contribute via HRMC as yet. They will be expected to contribute 10% of the funds directly to the training provider, and the government will fund the remaining 90% up to the maximum amount of funding available (NB organisations with fewer than 50 employees will need to make no contribution towards the delivery of apprenticeships for 16-18-year olds).
What are the options?
Whilst the two Trailblazer apprenticeships in development for the sector, the Conservation Technician (Level 4) and the Conservator (MA Level 7) are nearly ready, they're not quite there yet (we are hopeful that we should however be able to bring good news in the coming weeks), there are options out there.
Did you know that existing staff members could undertake an apprenticeship? In fact, that is how many organisations are using them, to help support the professional development of their existing workforce. Many of these are certainly appropriate for supporting mid-career Conservators seeking professional development opportunities.
As of February 2019, there are 397 standards approved for delivery. They cover a huge number of job roles many of which may well be suitable to existing staff members. For example, the Senior Leader level 7 degree apprenticeship is a 2-year programme that will give staff members a Master's degree - if one takes this apprenticeship with the Open University, apprentices will get an MBA.
Other relevant examples include the Project Management apprenticeship through which apprentices could complete a BA in Management & Leadership recognised by the Chartered Management Institute.
These are just a few of the relevant examples. To read the full list please take a look at the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education website.
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