Damian writes a monthly column in the Petersfield Post, and the subject for this month is the Apprenticeship Levy:
"I’m fortunate every year to meet apprentices across a whole range of businesses in East Hampshire – from hospitality to high end engineering – and the contribution they make to those businesses and the skills they’re gaining from those positions is impressive.
There has never been a better time to explore the opportunities offered by apprenticeships, as the Government’s new Apprenticeship Levy comes into effect on the 6th April - just one part of the drive to see three million new apprentices by 2020.
And it’s a bold vision. Apprenticeships regarded as a prestigious path to a successful career, with opportunities across all sectors of the economy and at all levels. Businesses recognising apprenticeships as a highly effective means to build their pipeline of skilled future staff, and all young people getting the preparation they need to be high quality candidates for apprenticeships.
The levy itself only affects employers in the UK with an annual pay bill of more than £3 million. They will be required to spend 0.5 per cent of their total pay bill on the levy, paying the charge each month through the PAYE system, in the same way Income Tax or National Insurance contributions are paid.
They will then be able to access those funds via a Digital Apprenticeship Service, enabling them to select and pay Government-approved training providers, and to post apprenticeship vacancies.
The levy helps put the employers in the driving seat and not just in financial terms. They have the opportunity to design and offer apprenticeships that are right for their businesses, expanding the remarkable range of world-class apprenticeship standards already available.
The Government is also introducing a 'levy allowance' of £15,000 per year, which will be subtracted from the 0.5 per cent total, and will also apply a 10 per cent top up on funds, meaning that for every £1 paid in, the employer gets £1.10 to spend.
And for employers who do not need to pay the levy, they can still use the apprenticeship service to help them choose training providers, assessment organisations and to post vacancies. They will be asked to make a 10% contribution to the cost of this training, with the Government paying the 90% balance, up to the maximum amount of government funding available for that apprenticeship.
Developing high quality apprenticeships and widening access to these will become increasingly important for the UK economy. Businesses will be able to use these to fill skills gaps and help retain and upskills their current staff, offering training that is tailored to their business.
And it’s important to recognise that apprenticeships are not just for the young. They are open to anyone over 16, so you’re never too old to start.
Taking on an apprenticeship later in life is just one of the opportunities that will be on show at the New Directions event coming to Alton on Tuesday 11th April, between 12 noon and 6pm.
The event at Alton College brings together employment, training and volunteering opportunities for the over 50’s, so people from across the area will have the chance to meet a wide range of employers, training services and voluntary organisations - all under one roof – and each keen to put their skills to work.
So, it’s time to take a fresh look at apprenticeships and the great way they enable people to earn and learn, and help employers get the trained staff they need for their businesses.
For more information on the New Directions event, including details on exhibitors, talks happening on the day and to pre-register, go to: www.newdirectionsalton.eventbrite.co.uk"
Article written by Damian Hinds and published in the Petersfield Post on 29th March 2017