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Employer case study: South Gloucestershire Council - Using the Apprenticeship Levy to train existing staff


Find out how your business can use the Apprenticeship Levy to train existing members of staff

Gloucestershire College proudly works with South Gloucestershire Council to deliver a wide range of apprenticeship programmes for their existing staff.

We caught up with Bernice Williams, Apprenticeship Coordinator at South Gloucestershire Council, to share their valuable experience of using the levy and how it can be used to benefit businesses.

Tell us about how you are using the Apprenticeship Levy within South Gloucestershire Council?

Previously, we always delivered training in house ourselves and spent a lot of money on it, but when the Apprenticeship Levy came in, it made sense to utilise the scheme.

At first, we started using the Apprenticeship Levy for our existing staff’s development in leadership and management. We then started to tap into other areas where we knew continuous training was required, such as civil engineering.

We have seen extensive growth year on year of using the Apprenticeship Levy to train our existing staff. In 2019, we had 39 staff start an apprenticeship, in 2018 we had 22, and 16 the year before that. So it’s continuously growing as an effective training scheme for us. We have staff doing everything from a Level 2 right up to a master’s degree apprenticeship, all funded through the levy. 

Our managers are becoming savvier with their budgets and we’re helping them to strategically draw funds from the levy. Our managers know that the money will be returned to HMCR if the funds are not spent. Each department within our organisation is effectively paying into our levy pot so we need to utilise it.

We actually have far more existing staff apprentices than we do newly recruited apprentices and the scheme has been really successful for us.

Which apprenticeship programmes are your staff currently completing?

We do a lot of IT apprenticeships with Gloucestershire College, which have all been really successful. We moved our IT apprenticeships to Gloucestershire College from a different previous provider, and the feedback from both our line mangers and apprentices has been amazing. For the IT apprenticeship opportunities we’re looking for, I now choose Gloucestershire College as our preferred provider.

We have an existing member of staff who will be starting the Level 6 Cyber Security Degree Apprenticeship with Gloucestershire College this September. This is a new programme for us, but it has come from looking at our skill-gaps, thinking about the future needs of our business and our commitment to staff development. We need to ensure our staff can progress within our company so we can continue to provide the services we do for our community.

We run a lot of internal communications to showcase our existing staff’s progression, why they chose to go down the apprenticeship route and how they are finding the experience. The Business Hub team at Gloucestershire College come in to talk to our staff during National Apprenticeship Week to offer advice and showcase the wide range of apprenticeship programme options available to them.

Have apprenticeships had a positive impact within South Gloucestershire Council?

Absolutely. For us, it’s all about the benefit of staff retention. We have a lot of existing staff who want to continue their professional development. Without the levy, we might not have been able to afford training due to budgets, particularly for the degree level progression routes which have become really popular with our staff. For our line managers, it’s great because we can say “yes, you can” rather than “sorry, we just don’t have the budget.” A member of staff who is trained through the levy feels invested in and valued as a team member.

If an existing employee wants to do an apprenticeship, what does this mean for their salary & job title?

We maintain our staff on exactly the same salary and job title. Nothing changes for them when they take on an apprenticeship training programme. We often get asked by staff “if I do an apprenticeship, what will my salary drop to?” But their salary won’t drop at all. If they succeed in their apprenticeship, we can even look into progressing them into a higher salary post that matches the qualification and experience they have gained through the apprenticeship route. The word ‘apprentice’ does not feature in their job title.

Get in touch with Gloucestershire College’s Business Hub

If South Gloucestershire Council’s successful Apprenticeship Levy strategy has inspired you to consider one for your business, get in touch with our apprenticeship experts in our Business Hub.

Gloucestershire College has a whole team dedicated to advising and guiding businesses to get the most out of their levy and maximise the funding on offer. Speak to our experts by emailing: or calling: 01452 563400




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