Local Law Firm Ready For Levy Lift Off
Levy ‘lift off’ is here, but of the local businesses supporting the biggest levy bills, only a small percentage have made any firm decisions about how to use this levy and how it should shape their recruitment and training strategy.
Gloucestershire College, in partnership with Harrison Clark Rickerbys, recently hosted an Apprenticeship Conference for employers in the region; the feedback was clear; many organisations don’t know how best to use their levy pot.
To help with this transition, Gloucestershire College is currently working across multiple sectors with local organisations to implement strategies that will maximise on the available levy funds after April 6th.
Some businesses are planning to use their levy payment to support entry level recruitment and boost their talent pool. Some are highlighting key leadership roles within the business to support succession and talent development plans, while others will use the levy to provide continued support for internal learning and development programmes across their portfolio.
Harrison Clark Rickerbys are one local business with a wage bill of over £3m, which will see them eligible to commit to the apprenticeship levy. Making plans in advance has prepared the firm and will allow them to use their levy payments to contribute to their ongoing learning and development strategy.
Partner, Jenny Jones is Head of Employment and a Director of Eagle HR, Harrison Clark Rickerbys’ sister business which provides a managed learning service to the top 100 law firm.
She said, “We have been aware of the proposed reforms for a while, so have implemented a strategy to increase our engagement with apprenticeships.
“As a business we have made a strategic decision to invest heavily in learning and development for all our staff. The levy has come along at a good time for us as we have been able to see it as an extension of this policy and an opportunity to include apprenticeships as a part of our long-term talent strategy.
“As a law firm, we have a culture of valuing skills and experience as much as traditional educational achievement. We can see that the levy could open up the profession to those from a wider background and we consider this a welcome change. We hope to recruit apprentices in all areas of our business in the coming years who will have real long-term career development opportunities with us. Really it’s another piece of our talent management jigsaw.”
Working with apprentices affords Harrison Clark Rickerbys the ability to develop their existing employees, and subsequent organisational capability. To support this, apprentices, alongside all members of staff, are given access to clearly explained career pathways.
Jenny continues, “We were already using a far more structured approach to learning and development and this month have also launched a CPD framework to our support staff, having launched a similar programme very successfully last year to our legal teams. This is one of the ways we aim to illustrate the opportunities available here for our staff. We want an office apprentice to be able to see how they could one day become an equity partner.”
The introduction of the apprenticeship levy, alongside other reforms are part of the Government’s plans to put more power for the structure and delivery of apprenticeships firmly in the hands of employers. This change, says Jenny, has brought with it more challenge and responsibility for management teams from employers across the county to understand the wider implications and opportunities this offers their staff.
“We are advising our managers and clients that it is not just the responsibility of HR to understand what opportunities the apprenticeship levy can bring for team members. Internally, we are working with heads of department to understand who within their teams can be up-skilled, who can take on new challenges and what roles they can develop into. The buck stops with managers, and I include myself in this, to know their people and identify through honest conversation how training and development can bring about sometimes surprising levels of growth and achievement.”
Alongside structured career development, using apprenticeships also offers Harrison Clark Rickerbys the opportunity to embed an organisational culture and ethos within its training programmes.
“Bringing apprentices into our business is a way to work within government guidelines and rubber stamp our ongoing policy. It is a natural continuation of seeking talent and skills that offer a good cultural and value fit for the organisation. Often it is easier to help people understand our culture and ethos as apprentices and then at the same time train them to meet the high standards of technical delivery and client service we set as a business. It is really rewarding to take on a junior team member and watch them flourish as they grow with us”
Despite the looming levy deadline this week, Jenny Jones urges local businesses to consider their options and avoid knee-jerk reactions that would see them committing to any new apprenticeship programme or partnerships with training providers.
“We want to use the levy as wisely as we can. We won’t rush our decisions, we have a wider plan and we will continue to look at the right qualifications for the right people delivered by the right providers.”
Harrison Clark Rickerbys are currently recruiting through the Gloucestershire College Apprentice Recruitment Service. They have been working in partnership with GC to implement their plans for 2017.
“Gloucestershire College clearly has a huge amount of industry knowledge and know-how in terms of how to implement a levy strategy. How it works, how to navigate the new online portal, what you can spend your pot on. Going forward we will continue to work together to identify new apprenticeships that will be a good fit for our business and how existing staff can benefit from the training and support available.”
For more information visit www.gloscol.ac.uk/levy or call the GC Business Hub on 01452 563403.
Photo from South West Business, 2017