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Invest in your future

Information for employers

With all the reforms taking place in the world of apprenticeships, it's vitally important that you, as an employer, understand how to design high-quality apprenticeships. These new positions should bring the maximum benefit possible for your organisation, delivering long-term value for both you and your staff.

We've outlined some of the key information that you need to know about apprenticeships to get you started. 

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a work-based training programme that supports organisations to train their employees for a specific job role whilst studying for a nationally-recognised qualification.

Apprenticeships have been around for years, what’s new?

Apprenticeships have long been seen as a vital way of developing the skills needed by employers.  That is why the Government has committed to increase the quality and quantity of apprenticeships in England reaching 3 million starts by 2020.  The Government is doing this by putting apprenticeship design firmly back with employers meaning that apprenticeship programmes of the future will both explicitly meet business needs and embed work-based learning into the organisation.

What are apprenticeship standards?

Groups of employers – known as Trailblazers – are working together to design Apprenticeship Standards for occupations in different sectors.  Apprenticeships are based on these standards; the standards focus on the knowledge, skills and behaviours an employee needs in order to be successful in a specific role.  In most cases, the standards include mandatory qualifications.  Within the financial services sector, a number of standards have already been approved for delivery with more currently in development.  These cover roles in areas including compliance, risk, financial advice, mortgage advice and customer services, and range from Level 2 (GCSE A* to C equivalent) all the way up to Masters level (Level 7).  Almost any role can have an apprenticeship. 

You can find out more about financial services apprenticeship standards below. 

What is the apprenticeships levy?

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The Apprenticeship Levy was introduced in April 2017 and is the biggest change to impact on the apprenticeship landscape. In short, all UK employers with an annual PAYE bill of over £3 million now pay an annual levy of 0.5%; this is taken on a monthly basis by HMRC and transferred into an employer’s account with the Digital Apprenticeship Service, topped up by the Government. 

The levy ‘pot’ can only be used to fund the training and assessment of apprenticeships in England, with each apprenticeship standard sitting under one of 15 funding bands or caps, ranging from £1,500 to £27,000. Digital accounts are accessed online and used by employers to ‘purchase’ training programmes from a list of recognised providers, recorded in the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers.  Levy payments expire after 24 months unless they are spent on approved apprenticeship schemes.  In the event that there are insufficient funds in an organisation’s digital account to cover the full cost of apprenticeship training and assessment, the government helps meet 90% of the additional costs.

How is the levy calculated in practice?

Let’s assume that you have an annual pay bill of £8,000,000.

  1. Your levy sum will be 0.5% x £8,000,000 i.e. £40,000.
  2. All employers receive an allowance of £15,000 from the Government to ‘offset’ against payment of the levy.
  3. Your annual levy payment will, therefore, be £40,000 less £15,000 i.e. £25,000.
  4. The Government then provides a 10% ‘top up’ to an organisation’s monthly levy contributions, so for every £1 paid in, a business has £1.10 to spend.

What happens if your annual wage bill is less than £3m?

In this case, you will not be required to pay the levy. Your organisation can, however, still receive government funding for apprenticeships up to 90% of the total costs. 

Are apprenticeships only for new staff?

Levy payments can be used to both attract new talent to the organisation and support existing staff to develop and build new skills.  Essentially, employees can be apprentices at any age and at any stage in their career, from school leavers to senior executives. For example, in the period August 2016 to April 2017, 47 per cent of all apprenticeship starts were aged 25 and over, with 13 per cent of those individuals aged over 45 according to the government's data library

How are apprenticeships assessed?

All apprentices must undertake an independent end-point assessment.  This is a synoptic assessment of the knowledge, skills and behaviours that have been learnt through the apprenticeship, and normally takes place during the last few months of the programme. 

How long does an apprenticeship take?

This depends on the individual standard but the minimum duration is 12 months.

Guide for employers 

We can help you get the best value you can from your levy payments, whether by investing in career development for your existing staff or by attracting new, motivated, high calibre talent. We've put together a guide to help you along with the process and explain how you can truly maximise apprenticeships in your organisation.

Register to receive our Guide for Employers

Get in touch 

Contact our Head of Apprenticeships, Karen Taylor, on 0207 334 6290 or email to discuss your needs and explore how we can work together.