Guest blog by Michael Bainbridge, Managing Director, KZN Solutions
The Government’s Apprenticeship Levy scheme is nearly upon us. However, it’s still doubtful whether many businesses affected by the changes are actually ready.
Poor advice is making the situation worse
There is a great deal of poor advice being bandied about, which means there is a danger that the issues seem more complicated than they really are. This means that any benefits from the initiative are being lost on employers.
When discussing with numerous colleagues within industry regarding the apprenticeship levy over 90% of employers are unaware of, or have been given bad advice on, the opportunities that the apprenticeship levy will bring.
Advice for businesses so far has included simple statements such as ‘we can help you spend it’ or ‘this is what you need it for’. Only a very small proportion of the advice I’ve seen appreciates the needs of an organisation. To put it bluntly, after many years of working with the improvement and skills arena, I have never come across so much lack of:
- understanding and
We expect to see some employers making bad choices
With so much lacking in these four very important areas it will not be surprising if we see employers making incorrect and misguided decisions. However, if correctly introduced into the structure of business, the apprenticeship levy can provide a strategic ‘blue print’ for improving workforce performance.
When implementing initiatives to cut costs and increase productivity, an organisation doesn’t fail through training infrastructure or improvement tools. They fail through implementation.
Employers fail through poor workforce engagement and poor skills development – especially those skills surrounding the creativity required by leaders to become leaders of continuous improvement. Overcoming these failures can be a lengthy process and very costly.
The apprenticeship levy is not only about spend – it is an opportunity for employers to improve skills and performance.
For many companies the apprenticeship levy is the first time that an actual budget has been given to develop their workforce and leadership.
There is a danger therefore that some employers will develop their own internal apprenticeship training and, if so, questions should be asked about the value of this training and how this training will be regulated. Of course, some employers will simply bury their heads in the sand and hope the levy will go away.
Embracing the levy can only make you stronger. If a business can look after this levy pot and focus upon the value creation aspects it can bring, a business could actually gain a significant return on investment by improving business performance.
Remember, the apprenticeship levy is all about business and what it can do so make it work for you. It’s vital that employers don’t miss out on this opportunity.