Intelligent CXO Issue 6 - Page 72

FINAL WORD
THE FOCUS ON UNIVERSITIES TO THE VIRTUAL EXCLUSION OF OTHER LEARNING OR TRAINING OPTIONS HAS CONTRIBUTED TO A UK SKILLS GAP .
pool of funding for companies to invest in their workforce ’ s training needs .
The way the scheme works is that any business with an annual wage bill of more than £ 3 million has to put 0.5 % of its payroll above the £ 3 million threshold into a new fund . This is then topped up with an extra 10 % from central government . The funds are kept in a digital account and must be used by the business within 24 months or are passed back to government .
The levy , while created with the best intentions , is proving to be somewhat controversial in its implementation . Many businesses are saying that the rules on accessing the funds are too rigid and not suited to real-world working environments .
Indeed , the Charted Institute for Professional Development ( CIPD ) has recently called for changes to how the levy operates .
The changes the CIPD would like to see include more flexibility to be introduced to allow employers to fund employees through technical or vocational courses in further education , which is not currently allowed under the existing framework .
But even without the changes being advocated by the CIPD , the
Apprenticeship Levy offers a huge opportunity for small to medium-sized enterprises ( SMEs ) to bring new skills into the organisation with the bulk of the cost coming from the levy fund .
How SMEs access the fund is quite straightforward . The easiest first step is to link up with a local training provider or further education college , the organisations that are incentivised to help SMEs bring on apprentices . They can advise on the most appropriate type of scheme that can be funded by the levy . Each apprenticeship scheme has its own standard linked to the specific occupation . Those are monitored and require a minimum of 12 months ’ training followed by an End-point Assessment ( EPA ).
The training provider partner can help run the process and ensure that the EPA is in place . They will also support in setting up the digital Apprentice Service Account into which the levy funds are transferred each month . These payments will continue until the apprentice either completes their training or leaves .
At the moment , too much of the monies raised by the levy are not being used by business and industry on training and apprenticeships . This is a clear indicator that something at the heart of the system is not functioning as it should and must stand as a warning to government that a change to the levy has to happen sooner rather than later .
In conclusion , to address the skills shortage in the UK economy , I believe we must focus on the areas that have been outlined here . First , we must give the ‘ Baker Clause ’ some real teeth . By strengthening the role of the clause , we will positively change how vocational and technical training options are perceived and positioned within the academic environment . Next , the Apprenticeship Levy needs revising to better fit the realworld needs of employers and employees .
A clear sign of success in this endeavour will be the fact that very little of the funds raised by the levy end up back in government coffers at the end of the 24-month period . x
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