It is now almost two years on from the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, and a year since the CSA was approved on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP). As such, we have a privileged position in being able to comment on the success of the Apprenticeship Levy to date, and in looking forward to what the future holds.
Despite mixed messages from the Government, and excitable headlines in the press, the Levy has already resulted in a number of real success stories.
We now have our first cohorts of apprentices coming towards their End Point Assessment and we’re delighted with the progress our learners have made and the commitment their employers have shown, with some coming back to start new programmes already.
A key development in the last 12 months has been the introduction of the Level 4 Regulatory Compliance Officer apprenticeship standard
Over the past two years we’ve worked with such prestigious institutions as the Bank of England and built strong partnerships with Professional Bodies including the Chartered Institute of Credit Management, the International Compliance Association and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, to enable us to deliver collections, compliance and risk apprenticeships to the wider financial services sector and compliance and regulatory sector.
A key development in the last 12 months has been the introduction of the Level 4 Regulatory Compliance Officer apprenticeship standard, which has seen us working with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to support its progress as it recruits for entirely new roles in regulatory compliance, as well as a large number of Local Authorities and other organisations within and beyond the debt collection sector.
But besides the big names and public sector organisations we’re now particularly excited to see many SMEs within our sector (and similar sectors) starting to embrace apprenticeships as a key part of their business growth. Those who have found themselves suddenly hitting £3m on their payroll and therefore qualifying as an Apprenticeship Levy payer are leveraging it to bring in additional funding to strategically invest in people development.
Where some of the larger organisations only ever saw the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy as yet another tax, these innovative SMEs (which include our member companies such as BW legal, Lantern, Philips & Cohen) are taking a less negative view, and seeing it as a business opportunity. However, we would urge SMEs who aren’t currently Levy payers to keep a close eye on their payroll as they grow and encourage them to prepare and hopefully make the most of Levy funds as soon as they do qualify to start paying into it.
For SMEs who don’t know where to start, RoATP’s such as the CSA can help, drawing on our experience of working with bigger Levy payers to maximise their investment in key areas such as credit control and compliance. We can also advise on how investment in apprenticeships through the Levy fits into your wider Learning & Development strategy as an established provider of specialist training at all levels.
The CSA runs apprenticeship programmes from entry level (e.g. Level 2 Credit Control) through to senior management (eg Level 6 Compliance Risk) across the country and can tailor packages to suit the needs of your business (find out more here). Ultimately, we want to achieve our aim of raising standards and increasing the professionalism of the debt collection profession both within our membership and in wider sectors and the long-term business benefits for SMEs are huge if Levy funds are used effectively.
While some remain sceptical about the role of the Apprenticeship Levy, we have seen first-hand the positive impact it can have on organisations who invest in the right areas with the right training providers and we’re excited to see this develop further over the next year as more and more SMEs grow and become Levy payers.
There are those who only ever see the world as a glass half empty; taking a more positive, half-full approach to the Apprenticeship Levy can have proven benefit to your employees and your business.