In the run up to the Apprenticeship Levy, which launches this week, top UK employment and skills specialist Seetec supported a series of events which brought together some of UK business’ biggest apprenticeship supporters to lead a forum for discussion on how companies across the UK might best “Leverage the Levy”.
A panel of experts included John Baumback, Managing Director of Seetec, Dr John Philpott, The Jobs Economist and Penny Power OBE, CEO and Founder of The Business Cafe and Ecademy shared their insights and led discussions around the best way to make the most of this exciting new legislation.
They were joined by special guest panelists including Alex Lewis – HR Director of BAE Systems plc (Manchester), Melanie Hayes – Resourcing & Development Director at Compass Group UK & Ireland (London), Sue Evans – Human Resources and Organisation Development at Warwickshire County Council and Louise Pointon – Senior HR Officer for Arup (Warwick).
Guests included professionals from some of the UK’s biggest employers including Direct Line, Santander, The Big Lottery Fund and N Power.
John Baumback, Managing Director of Seetec, is a passionate advocate of apprenticeships: ‘Apprenticeships are really close to my heart as it’s where I started. Apprentices are of value to organisations from the word go, your core values are instilled in them from the start’
Speaking about the dangers of organisation’s negotiating the cost of delivery John confirmed that ‘at Seetec, my passion is to offer quality delivery – one of our main goals is offering long term excellence over short term brilliance.’
‘We know the Apprenticeship Levy has already become a worry to businesses and as a provider to some of the UK’s biggest employers, including the companies of our panelists, we wanted to equip HR teams with as much information as to how to best deliver return for both the business and the apprentice from the Levy. How to leverage the additional opportunities presented by the apprenticeships and workforce reforms to transform the skills, abilities and qualifications of both new and existing staff and the resulting implications for productivity, retention and performance.’
Alex Lewis, HR Director at Maritime BAE System plc, speaking in Manchester, said: ‘There are many pros and cons of the levy. We fully support the amount of new apprenticeships the government is aiming for by 2020 and believe that it is a great way to improve the quality of apprenticeships. Our main concerns include the application of the program and the end point assessment, therefore it would be good to see some outlines from the Government regarding these points.’
Digital evangelist Penny Powers, OBE., said: ‘We must take responsibility for digital literacy and how it can impact on our organisations – this is why I am so excited by the Levy and the opportunities it presents. Companies must invest in training at all levels, it is no longer a choice.’
Quoting the fact that digital skills today have a lifetime of only 2.5 years she acknowledged that businesses often don’t have the skills that their recruits take as second nature. Listing the 10 basic digital skills a college leaver has to have (including how to set up a Wifi network, backing up files to the cloud, basic computer programming, branding and setting up websites and domain names) she made the point that most employers don’t have these skills and made the case for reverse mentoring.
The series of panel events, which took place in Manchester, London and Warwick in March, saw experts discuss their thoughts on the Apprenticeship Levy and how their organisations had interpreted it.
The main message to come from the Manchester discussion focussed on how businesses in the region can take full advantage of the new higher and degree apprenticeships, how businesses can help close the skills gap and possible ways to up-skill and offer apprenticeships to ‘older’ workers.
Dr John Philpott, The Job Economist said: ‘The levy allows us to look more broadly on how we can up-skill older workers and is a much more ambitious campaign to improve leadership and management skills. It isn’t the answer to all of our skills problems but it’s definitely part of the answer.’
The panel agreed there was the need for greater collaboration between further education, older apprentices, training providers and employers – with more effective support from Government and the Local Enterprise Partnerships – as the way for the region to create jobs, up-skill, innovate and make the most of talent of all ages.
About The Apprenticeship Levy:
Central Government has set a target of achieving three million apprenticeship starts during the current parliament, for Greater Manchester, this translates to a total of 184,000 apprenticeship starts by 2020 (approximately 20% growth on current numbers).
The Government estimates that 1.3% of employers whom have a payroll in excess of £3 million will pay 0.5% into their Levy contribution.
Key targets for the levy include a 45% increase in the number of annual apprenticeships from 2014 to 2020, of which 10% will be at Higher or Degree level and a 64% increase in the number aged 16 – 24. Targets also include a 5% increase in achievement rates by 2020, a 50% increase in apprenticeships in GM’s priority sectors and 13% of key stage 4 and 15% of key stage 5 leavers will progress directly into an apprenticeship.
Businesses wanting to discuss how to use the Apprenticeship Levy to transform their organisation’s learning and development strategy should contact Seetec on 0800 389 1999.