· Features

Hot topic part two: The apprenticeship levy

Employers with a pay bill of more than £3 million each year will be required to invest in apprenticeships

But are businesses prepared for the levy? And what should they be doing now if not?

Ann Brown, head of people at KPMG, says:

"We already employ more than 200 apprentices. We are passionate about apprenticeships’ role in improving social mobility and providing alternative entry routes to employment and education. We see the levy as an opportunity to expand our apprenticeship programme and have already developed a strategy to do this.

"Some larger businesses are using the levy as an opportunity to take a new look at how they recruit and upskill talent. The most mature of these are linking apprenticeships into their strategic workforce planning and using the levy as a ring-fenced budget to address diversity, mobility and skills challenges.

"However, the levy rules are quite complex and to date it appears that most businesses have been focusing on the tactical implications of its introduction. It is only recently that we have seen organisations getting serious about how they plan to increase their apprenticeship capability.

"For companies just starting this journey the best advice we can give is to use the levy as an opportunity to look at your business and identify how bringing in apprentices can address your long-term skills and people needs."

Ryan Longmate, managing director of Positive Outcomes, says:

"Despite the levy’s introduction being only weeks away we’ve found that some businesses are still unclear about its benefits.

"Businesses with an annual wage bill of more than £3 million should already be aware they will be required to pay the apprenticeship levy from May. Smaller non-contributing firms will receive government support to help cover the cost of their apprenticeship training.

"Payments go into a digital account, which acts as a funding pot that businesses can use to train new apprentices or upskill existing staff.

"It’s a great opportunity and something employers should be actively looking to take advantage of.

"To do so they need to partner with a training provider, such as Positive Outcomes, who will deliver the training and advise on how to get the most from the levy."

Read part one of this Hot Topic