Gloucestershire's Apprenticeship Champions 2019


Continuing our apprenticeship theme in this edition, regular Business Boffin Cathy O’Donoghue of HR Champions Ltd takes a look at some things to consider, whether or not you are thinking about taking on apprentices. The Apprenticeship Reform Programme aims to increase the quality and quantity of available apprenticeships, to better fit the needs of business and fill the ever-growing skills shortages. This, coupled with the introduction of the apprenticeship levy, certainly gives the impression that apprenticeships are the government’s preferred form of business education and skills training going forward. Indeed, the government’s Apprenticeship Vision is to have three million apprenticeship starts in 2020. However, there doesn’t seem to have been much activity to raise awareness of the reform programme and the promotion of apprenticeships appears somewhat lacklustre, so you might be forgiven for wondering how they plan to achieve their vision. Whilst the apprenticeship levy should encourage those employers with larger wage bills to recoup some of the cost by actually taking on apprentices, we should remember that the levy actually applies to all business.At the moment there is 100% relief for those organisations whose wage bill is less than £3million. In other words, only businesses whose annual payroll is over £3million have to pay the levy; so that is businesses either with a lot of employees or a high average salary, such as in banking. It’s likely however that the levy was set up in this way so that the relief could be reduced over time, meaning more and more businesses will eventually have to pay it. So, if the relief reduces to wage bills of £1million, any businesses that employ just 37 staff, all earning the National Average Wage will be affected. So it might be worthwhile planning ahead. Unfortunately, apprenticeships don’t have a great Making the most of apprenticeships

reputation, and the government might have an uphill struggle with its goal to “convince young people that they are a high quality and prestigious path to a successful career”. Moreover, the hardest battle may be in convincing employers to take on apprentices.This may account for the introduction of the levy, which may be used more as stick than carrot. There are apprenticeships for over 1500 job roles in the UK available at four levels. We usually associate apprenticeships with Level 2, which is what you might expect a school leaver to take. However apprenticeships are available for all age groups and can be a good way to revitalise learning with older members of the workforce. Level 4s for example are equivalent to a degree. The .gov website details which apprenticeships are available for your industry. Knowing the availability and criteria ahead of time will stand you in good stead and by offering higher level apprenticeships, you should be able to attract a higher calibre of staff. Because of the way that apprenticeships operate, they are at their most effective when the apprentices are led by mentors with good coaching skills. It can be an art to effectively share your years of experience with someone who is new in their role and trying to pick up the reins for the very first time. At HR Champions, we provide training in coaching and mentoring skills which can help to equip more senior members of the team to share their insights and secrets that come from years of experience. By having staff prepared to deliver and be part of an apprenticeship strategy, you can ensure yours are more effective for your business and the apprentices l Call us on 01452 331331 or e-mail

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December 2018 | www. punchline-gloucester .com | 97

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