2017 saw the introduction of the government’s Apprenticeship Levy, yet years on and there is still confusion amongst independent garages about the levy and how it affects them. PMM ’s expert contributor, Gemma Westlake, hopes to provide clarity in her latest column.
Welcome! Hopefully you have had time to reflect (and possibly even act) on my last article about industry placements. As promised, we will now look into the Apprenticeship Levy; what it is, why we have it, and how it can help you. Let’s start with the obvious, what is it? Well, the Apprenticeship Levy is a government initiative that was introduced in April 2017 with the following intention (as quoted on gov.uk):
‘The levy will help to deliver new apprenticeships and it will support quality training by putting employers at the centre of the system. Employers who are committed to training will be able to get back more than they put in by training sufficient numbers of apprentices.’
In basic terms, companies that have a wage bill of over £3 million per year need to pay a percentage (0.5%) of their pay bills into the levy. This actually means that less than 2% of UK employers pay into it (another quote from good old gov.uk). For employers that fall into this category, they pay the levy alongside tax and national insurance. It was actually designed to end up with the employer benefitting when taking on an apprentice and receiving one annual allowance of £15,000 to offset against their levy payment. All well and good I hear you say, but I most definitely do not pay £3 million worth of wages per year, so where do I stand?
Currently in a pretty good place as it happens. From April last year, the government started to fund 95% of an apprenticeship (previously 10%), and for anyone taking on an apprentice between 1st August 2020 and 31st January 2021, the government was offering incentive payments. It would be well worth looking into what is currently available.
Next question, where do you look? Having a look around myself, the most obvious place to go would be gov.uk, but I have found some other useful sites such as crunch.co.uk (this one is actually an online accounting website, but it has some very useful and straightforward information regarding apprenticeships and funding).
To be honest, the easiest way to get the correct information and assistance with the entire apprenticeship process is to contact your local college (one that has a motor vehicle department). Here at BCOT, our business department makes contact with employers, visits the garages (COVID dependent), and guides them through all the steps necessary to employ an apprentice, including the funding process. As soon as all the information is digested and understood, then we can get going with the training.
Prior to the new year, most of our theory lessons were conducted online, but the apprentices were still able to continue work within their bubbles and completing the practical based tasks with their mentor in the workplace. Most of the apprentice tasks can be uploaded onto the elogbook and checked remotely, which enables ‘classroom’ learning and preparation for their gateway assessments to be completed on their theory day at college.
Interested to know more about the tasks expected of an apprentice and what it means to be a mentor? Join me next time to find out!