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Ruth Shepherd
Ruth Shepherd

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07 October 2019 Ruth Shepherd

The Apprenticeship Levy needs clearer guidance for employers, says Ruth Shepherd.

The Apprenticeship Levy policy paper, published on 4 February 2016, claimed: “The levy will help to deliver new apprenticeships and it will support quality training by putting employers at the centre of the system.” However, the policy has not had the desired effect. 

Money goes into the levy ‘pot’ and apprenticeship providers access that pot. However, the bureaucracy surrounding the contribution process makes it complex and there’s little support for employers to set up and administer their contributions. Clearer guidance would streamline the process, as once in place, it’s relatively easy to manage.

Hospitality is the third-largest private sector employer in the UK. Perhaps the biggest challenge is the competency-based assessment process. For example, if a team leader aspires to become a unit manager it would be a fantastic use of the levy fund for that person to train to develop the skills necessary to take a future vacancy at that higher level. 

But as the requirement is competence-based, the only apprenticeship available to that person would be to train as a team leader – a role he or she is already performing. 

It would be valuable to businesses to have greater flexibility to spend the fund on developing the next generation of unit managers, chefs or sales people, for example. But in reality, all that can be achieved is to map the apprenticeship to the roles they are currently undertaking. Apprentices should be committed to the programme, confident that their potential will be nurtured to prepare them for the next available vacancy upon completion. Only then will all involved benefit.

This scheme has the potential to offer access to training with a clear development pathway for the next generation of employees. At present, however, it is about giving people a qualification to recognise the skills they can demonstrate in their current roles. This misses a key opportunity for an apprenticeship programme: developing capability to progress or providing a pathway into employment. 

Ruth Shepherd is human resources manager at Blue Apple Catering