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Time's ticking: Do you risk losing your apprenticeship return on investment?

Linzi Johnston, head of consultancy engagement, People 1st

With the levy having kicked in last April, the 24-month timespan in which businesses have to spend the funds from their first month’s payment is quickly ticking away.

Whilst the first months fund won’t expire until March 2019, this does only leave you with 12 months. This may seem like plenty of time, but in reality to plan and implement each stage of the apprenticeship journey could take you up to 17 months – so if you’re not well into the planning and implementation stage, you do risk losing a proportion of the funds that are currently sat in your levy account.

Have you factored in the time it takes to complete each stage?

7 critical stages

There are seven critical stages in the apprenticeship journey, and depending on whether your business has begun planning how you want to use the new apprenticeships and maximising your levy, you could be facing a sizeable piece of work – but one that can deliver significant returns to your bottom line and strengthen your talent pipeline.

There are many factors that will affect the amount of time it takes your business to achieve each step; such as whether your businesses is new to apprenticeships or has an infrastructure in place; whether you have a clearly defined people strategy; and whether you already have buy-in from the leadership and senior management teams.

The following provides a guideline of timings and what you need to consider at each stage:

  • Developing the strategy (1-3 months)

Can apprenticeships support the existing people development strategy, and if so, what are the roles that would support an apprenticeship?

  • Defining desired outcomes (0-1 month)

What are the desired outcomes and what does success look? You will also need to identify and agree how this will be monitored and measured. Working with your finance team to define how you will quantify a return on investment will be critical.

  • Getting buy in (1-3 months)

How are apprenticeships viewed by the business? Do teams have the skills to support the apprentice? Do they understand the value apprentices bring? Do they understand the new standards?

  • Mapping existing training (2-3 months)

Are there existing training and development programmes that are delivered in-house and would add real value to the apprenticeship offer? If so, get the training professionally mapped to the standards.

  • Establishing costs (1 month)

What are the additional costs a business will incur when offering an apprenticeship programme? Review all the costs that the levy will not support and that will need to be covered by the business itself.

  • Defining delivery model (2-3 months)

If you’ve agreed apprenticeships are the right solution then next stage is to make sure the right training provider and end point assessment organisation are engaged. You should choose one that understands your business and culture and that is offering the right package of support and delivery. It is also critical to ensure that everyone involved fully understands the role they have to play. If using an external provider, you will need to award the delivery contract and draw up service level agreements to ensure the provider delivers to the agreed terms. You’ll also need to choose an assessment organisation to carry out the end-point assessment (EPA).

  • Launch of programme (1-3 months)

When will the apprentices be selected, enrolled and supported? When will the provider spend time really getting to know the business? When is the provider realistically able to start delivering? What marketing is required to launch the programme?

Getting your business on track

With a maximum timespan of 17 months for planning and implementation, and only 12 months left before the first month’s levy funds will expire, you should at very least have completed the development of your strategy and defined your desired outcomes, and now be looking at getting buy in from across the business and mapping your existing training.

If you’re not currently at the optimum stage, the most important thing at this point is to get things moving and get your strategy in place without delay.

There is plenty of support available – our experts can help point you in the right direction – get in touch today.

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