Time is running out to use your levy funds
A recent study by The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and Middlesex University reported that one in four businesses still don’t know how the Apprenticeship Levy works, and these businesses could be missing out, as they only have 24 months in which to use their levy funds before they are transferred into a pot for other companies from next April.
The Apprenticeship Levy was introduced in April 2017, with the aim of creating and funding three million new apprenticeships by 2020. However, the latest government statistics report that the number of apprenticeship starts dropped 40 per cent year on year in February, and there is over £1 billion still in the pot for employers to use.
Gloucestershire College, however, continues to buck the national trend; seeing an impressive increase of 32 per cent in apprenticeship starts since August 2017.
The apprenticeship levy was introduced to help fund the government’s goal of improving the UK’s productivity. Employers with a wage bill of more than £3 million are required to pay 0.5 per cent of their wage bill into a system through PAYE. These employers can then access up to £15,000 a year of these funds to pay for their apprenticeship training via the Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS) online portal – but this must be used within two years before being put back into the system for other employers to use.
The levy system has been perceived as too complicated or inflexible for some, for example, as apprenticeships need to fall within an apprenticeship standard or framework, and apprentices need to undertake 20 per cent off-the-job learning. This could explain the lack of apprenticeship uptake over the past year.
GC is fully committed to supporting employers through the apprenticeship process – including ensuring they fully understand the levy process and how to spend their funds – which has resulted in the notable increase in their own apprenticeship starts.
Julie Tegg, Director of Employer Training, said: “It’s a shame that, nationally, employers aren’t taking advantage of the Apprenticeship Levy and we are seeing a decline in apprenticeship starts. But we’re pleased to be bucking the trend at Gloucestershire College, thanks to the dedication of our Business Hub team who ensure that county employers are informed, supported and benefitting from the apprenticeship reforms.
“Apprenticeships are an ideal way for employers to fill skills gaps and future-proof their businesses, while enjoying improved productivity, competitiveness, quality and customer service. It’s great to see more and more county employers taking up these opportunities with GC, including our free recruitment service, and we’re more than happy to help those looking to grow.”
If you think you could benefit from hiring and an apprentice with Gloucestershire College, call the team on 01452 563400 for more information.