Britain’s Got Talent…

A photograph of Gareth Graham.

Posted by  Gareth Graham, Head of Key Accounts, Apprenticeships,

Britain’s Got Talent, and I’m not talking about dancing polar bears or storm troopers but rather the talented young people currently looking to undertake an Apprenticeship across the UK.  Whilst the show has undoubtedly unearthed some future stars, not least Saturday’s winner, soldier turned magician, Richard Jones, the Government’s drive to increase Apprenticeships over the next four years will hopefully lead to greater talent across multiple sectors in Britain that can be celebrated in the same way.

An increase that could be driven by the Apprenticeship levy, a topic that’s becoming more and more familiar amongst employers eagerly awaiting future announcements, so they can really start to shape their talent strategies.

There appear to be four key areas our levy-paying employers, and many others, are highlighting; eligibility criteria, funding rates per qualification, administration behind the Digital Apprenticeship Service and the devolved Apprenticeship model in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

I hope BIS will be clear next month in their draft proposals around eligibility criteria as, speaking with our stable of corporate accounts, this is crucial in determining what their Apprenticeship uptake will look like.

A clear message from the employers we partner with has been the need to offer a consistent programme to all apprentices, whether they are new into the business, or existing staff looking to up skill.

Is it right that someone moving into Financial Services should be denied the opportunity to up-skill through a ‘levy’ funded Apprenticeship programme because they completed a degree in Horticulture in 2008?

The Levy may be considered part of the ‘public purse’ but the principle behind the changes to Apprenticeships were to put the ‘employer’ at the centre of the skills agenda and as such I hope their voices are heard, just like everyone listens to Simon Cowell!

What seems to be ever more apparent is the Digital Apprenticeship Service will require additional administrative support not only to choose a provider, pay the provider etc. but to add and remove learners from a programme.  ‘Who is going to press the button?’ is a line we have heard on many occasions.  Unfortunately I don’t foresee it being as easy as Mr Cowell slamming down the buzzer to halt a horrendous performance; especially when some employers will have hundreds, if not thousands, of learners on programme at any one time.

It looks positive that employers may be able to allow their training provider to administer this on their behalf with providers subject to the financial auditing we currently face.  Although along similar lines to the entertainment industry; employers may have access to a ‘red button’ to stop payments should they have concerns around funding claims.

The Apprenticeship model outside of England seems unlikely to have any real further clarity in the short term with employers concerned as to how they can reclaim and spend their proportion of levy funding that will be re-directed.  This brings me back to Britain’s Got Talent and it’s vital we all recognise this is not confined to England.

Want to find out more about the Apprenticeship Levy, get your levy questions answered.