I have just participated in a webinar held by DiVA (the training provider we use for our SftF apprentices) about the Apprenticeship levy being introduced by the government in 2017.
For those who have not come across the details yet the plan is that all employers with a payroll of more than £3m will pay a 0.5% levy that will be invested into the apprentices. This levy will mean all employers of apprentices (regardless of whether they pay the levy or not) will be entitled to claim £15,000 to offset training costs.
A number of other changes are also likely to come in (although the details are still being firmed up by the government) including the following:
- the QCF is likely to change so that apprentices achieve an organisational/industry 'standard' rather than a qualification
- organisations will be encouraged to do more training and assessment in-house
- level 2 qualifications could be replaced by pre-apprenticeship traineeships with additional funding being available to support learners with English/Maths
The positive/negative impact of this levy will no doubt be felt in museums/galleries and heritage organisations of all sizes across the country. Despite the possible financial incentive for smaller organisations to benefit from employing apprentices these changes raise a number of questions and concerns for both employers and apprentices:
1. What is the potential impact on uptake of apprenticeships in smaller/less well known organisations if there is no associated/accredited qualification?
2. What support/training will there be for organisations to deliver high quality programmes?
3. If more assessment is in-house how will organisations be monitored for quality control in the delivery of apprenticeships? And in the long run, how would those delivering best practice remain unaffected by the potential bad reputation?
4. What is the potential impact on diversity if employers decide to convert current entry level roles to apprenticeships - and still look to recruit graduates/postgraduates?
5. How does it effect those paying bursaries?
I'm sure more information will be provided over the coming months with the new budget etc but I wondered how those participating in funded programmes will be affected by this.
Will HLF be offering some information about the changes coming in and how this might impact organisations managing/participating in Skills for the Future programmes or have other funded projects that involve apprentices?
Does this provide an opportunity for the development of best practice guidance for delivering heritage sector apprenticeships under the new system?
I appreciate there may not be any firm answers at this stage, and that this will be an ongoing discussion over the coming months (with more changes no doubt following the budget in the spring).
However, I would be interested in hearing other people’s views on the details of the levy, if you share my concerns and how you think it might potentially impact your organisation and programmes.
With best wishes