The East Riding College column with director of business programmes Richard Sellick

East Riding College.
East Riding College.

East Riding College and the wider region is bucking national trends to see strong apprenticeship employment in the area – despite a downturn in the number of those signing up to apprenticeships nationally since the introduction of the apprenticeship levy.

The region should be proud of this outcome, it reflects the strategic and positive approach of our employers, both large and small.

Since 2017, employers with a payroll bill of £3m or more have been paying a 0.5% apprenticeship levy to the Government to fund new apprenticeships. ‘Levy Employers’ can then access the levy to fund training for apprentices.

Non-levy paying employers who offer apprenticeships to 16 to 18 year olds can receive 100% of the training costs from government, up to maximum funding bands. Employers do have to pay 5% of apprenticeship training costs for employees aged 19 and over with the government paying the remaining 95%, again up to maximum funding bands.

All of which represents an excellent opportunity for employers to access training to upskill their workforce, providing employees with opportunities to learn on the job or to create progression routes which help retain skilled staff.

If levy paying companies do not spend the entire allocated levy budget, since April 2019 they have been encouraged to support apprenticeships by transferring up to 25% of their apprenticeship funds to other employers.

To support new opportunities and widen participation in apprenticeships, funding transfers apply to any employer, including smaller ‘supply chain’ employers. Businesses who have not handed down their contributions lose this funding.

Forward-thinking large employers have turned the levy into an opportunity to build in succession planning, skills development of their workforce and innovation into their strategy for growth.

At East Riding College we want to inspire both young people and adults to recognise apprenticeships as an effective step to a successful career, and make sure that businesses continue to see the value of apprenticeships.

In some quarters, apprenticeships are still seen as opportunities for school leavers and young people, when in fact there is no upper age limit and can support career progression at all levels of an organisation – degree apprenticeships, which include a full Bachelors or Master’s Degree, are becoming more common and can be an alternative to graduate training schemes.

The Humber LEP has recently published a useful Employers’ Apprenticeship Toolkit to help small/medium sized businesses further understand how to engage and develop apprentices.

This toolkit supports businesses in navigating apprenticeship policy reforms and funding, signposts towards local/national resources and demonstrates how apprenticeships can assist businesses of any size/sector to fill skills gaps and meet aspirations.

For help and advice with anything to do with apprenticeships or training to develop skills for people already in work, anyone can speak to East Riding College’s business development team on 01482 390888 to find out more.