Tuesday 30th May 2017

The Apprenticeship Levy – Unintended Positive Consequences?

My Predictions or a Follow-on From My Manifesto in 2015

Thank you everyone for the positive comments on my articles. You seem to find them at least a little interesting. On LinkedIn, the analytics were telling me 26,000 views for the last article and some interesting companies that are viewing. So, I’ll continue until you either stop reading, I bore you to death or indeed both.

I won’t however give you a day by day review of everything I’m doing with my levy clients – that will bore you to watching EastEnders or even the Housewives of Cheshire but clearly some people are interested by fellow LinkedIn posters!

Our team have now been working with levy clients from a wide range of sectors, big and small across all regions. During that time, we have been startled by the lack of knowledge of the levy by many large businesses but similarly impressed by some that have really grasped the opportunity that it brings.

We all know of the work of the major firms of Accountants – as a former partner of KPMG I can’t help but think their motive, and those of others might not just be right but they will have to deal with OFSTED like the rest of us. It will be interesting to see how the new employer providers deal with this new stakeholder relationship. I understand some have already walked away after the ESFA training and I’m sure it wasn’t as a result of them being bored.

However, what is becoming increasingly clear to me is that recruitment strategies for organisations will fundamentally change over the next few years – and it’s the levy that has brought about this change – not a sudden social conscience to do more to help young people but a realisation that really this levy thing can really help our businesses. It’s a shame really that it’s taken a tax to bring this to the forefront but nonetheless a positive unintended consequence.

With another hat on (my wife says how do you find the time), I am the Chairman of a Multi academy trust Resources committee.  A very successful one at that but as they grow, they will face many opportunities and challenges. I was discussing the impact of the levy with the CEO the other day, not about how they spend their levy (and yes we aren’t delivering because of a conflict of interest !) but the impact on them as an organisation in terms of their offer to parents and others – a stony silence because It had never occurred to them that this could bring about change or indeed opportunity.

So, on this bank holiday, I have some predictions or my Manifesto at this election time. We are already starting to work with companies, large and small, the commercial sector and public sector to support them with this debate and strategic opportunity:

  • In the next 24 months, nearly every profession will be available as a standard and therefore completed by an Apprenticeship route – for those as old as me, the old SEN and SRN in nursing through a new Apprenticeship, Police cadets through a new Policing Standard, Accounting – we called it articled clerks in my day, Bank Manager – that was the Institute of Banking and it goes on and on
  • Progressive companies will align with forward thinking schools or MAT’s in much the same way they align with preferred Universities – we are already facilitating this through our levy work
  • Schools will need to think of their offer to parents – ‘At 16 or 18, we can offer your child a pathway to a career with a great employer’ – not the thought this is a second class offer to those that don’t go to University
  • For businesses and public sector (particularly with the 2.3% target), how can we design our recruitment and talent management strategies as a business to harness the best that schools can offer us and how to we brand our offer in an increasingly competitive world.
  • For young adults considering their futures, how can I position myself to be in the best position to gain a career without the need for all that debt at University.

Whilst the early days of the levy has not witnessed a mass recruitment of new young apprentices into businesses, with a focus on the use of the money for management development for existing staff, turning back to my former colleagues at KPMG and similar organisations, they have probably got it right.

My final thought is to all those parents, grandparents and young people thinking about their University choices now and over the next 2-3 years. Just remember, it just might be the case you come out of University with all that debt, looking for a great career BUT the majority of those opportunities have been taken up by your friends at 18 who now have money in their pocket, three years work experience and probably qualified in their chosen profession.

University I am told is a great experience (I can’t confirm – I was an articled clerk) but if you can’t get a job because all that levy money has been used to recruit your friends at 18 into the job you wanted, then it has been a very expensive party for three years or more.

After a terrible week and our thoughts with those lost and injured in Manchester, many young people with their careers ahead of them, there might just be some positive unintended consequences of the Levy that provide our young adults with choices and no debt.


Peter Marples

Peter Marples is Joint Owner of 3aaa Apprenticeships, the only independent training provider to achieve Ofsted Grade 1 Outstanding in all areas on first inspection.

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