Maybe it’s appropriate that on the day when a former host of reality TV show The Apprentice becomes America’s 45th President that I should be writing about Apprenticeships. But that’s what I have been doing recently.
Coming out next week in The Telegraph is a piece I’ve written about how large companies are preparing for The Apprenticeship Levy – a 0.5 per cent tax that all companies with a turnover of £3 million per year will have to pay from April 2017 to invest in apprenticeships and training.
As part of the feature I attended a roundtable sponsored by BAE Systems to discuss how big companies like the BBC, Network Rail and Airbus are gearing up towards the changes by aligning their apprenticeships to government approved schemes.
Once the levy is paid and the apprenticeships approved, companies will then be eligible to ‘draw down’ the funding from their digital accounts within 18 months. They will also be entitled to a further 10% top up payment from the Government.
I think it’s generally a good idea and might well encourage talented people to go straight into industry who may otherwise have been put off by the thought of having to go to University and accumulating massive debts in the process (average graduate debt is now over £45,000).
However, I suspect that the levy might well come as a bit of a shock to smaller companies with around a £3 million turnover who aren’t even aware of the levy yet, let alone have begun to think how they might invest in apprenticeships over the coming months and years.
Whatever, it will certainly represent a change of focus so that going to University won’t be the only option for young people who want to get on in their chosen career.