Don’t miss out on funding for training05 January 2017

Training moves to the next chapter of funding on 1 April this year, as the government imposes its controversial apprenticeship levy along with new qualifying standards for schemes, under the trailblazer programme. And, while neither measure appears to have been uppermost on boardroom agendas, both are going to bite.

If this year’s intake of apprentices is not working to the new or updated standards – or you are not using training providers on the approved register – your business will lose out. Quite simply, firms headquartered in England (the devolved Welsh and Scottish governments are yet to declare) will not be reimbursed as per the new levy-based digital funding model.

In short, they will be ineligible for 100% funding. Instead, they may only be paid under the outgoing framework arrangement (two thirds government, one third employer) until that lapses. Further, organisations with a group payroll exceeding £3 million won’t get value from their extra 0.5% apprenticeship tax.

That hurts. And in hard times, if you’re attracting new talent through the apprenticeship route and/or offering ongoing training to existing staff, it also doesn’t make any financial sense.

So what are you going to do? No doubt, some will treat the new levy as just another cost of doing business. And, if you don’t sponsor apprentices or run training schemes, what choice do you have? For most, though, the route to mitigation may be in reviewing your training, aligning programmes with the newly approved standards and, if necessary, moving them to registered training providers.

No one pretends this will be easy. You need decent numbers to make it worthwhile. And with the new standards, 20% of learning must be off the job – which isn’t without cost. So, as we step forward into 2017, thinking outside the box is in order. Happy New Year.

Brian Tinham BSc CEng MInstMC FSOE FIPlantE FIRTE

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