Since May 2017, larger companies with a wages bill of >£3m have been required to make a 0.5% of total wages bill payment into the Apprenticeship Levy. However, they can then gain subsequent funding for a minimum of 90% of the direct costs of either a new or existing employee completing an Apprenticeship. In fact, in some cases, usually age-related, they can gain up to 100% funding.
However, it seems that many smaller businesses who do not contribute to the Apprenticeship Levy, are unaware that they can also benefit from similar funding. Even if they are aware, many assume that it will be a ‘bureaucratic nightmare’ to qualify for the funding.
But, is this really the case?
The answer is a resounding “No!” It is actually really easy to set up an apprenticeship as a small business, especially if you are already registered as a PAYE employer.
How do I know this?
Because, I have just taken on my first Apprentice as a small employer, and it took no more than 30-45 minutes of my time in total to actually set my Apprenticeship scheme up online. Naturally, if you have to still find a suitable Apprentice, this will take the usual time of recruiting someone. Equally, you may also still have to research and select the Training Provider who will run the Apprenticeship for you, but again, this is no different to sourcing any outside organisation to provide any sort of training.
There were just a few main steps:
- I had to set up an Apprenticeship account via linked to my PAYE account (actioned through the portal as many of you will have claimed furlough payments for many months!)
- I had to read and sign a ‘contract’ relating to the requirements on me as an employer
- I already had an existing employee whom I wanted to start on an Apprenticeship, so I simply had to register her details. If you hadn’t already got someone in mind, you would obviously need to recruit someone (and you can use the Government site to advertise your vacancy if you wish to).
- Once the Apprentice is registered, you have to also select a Training Provider. The site allows you to say what Apprenticeship you wish to offer, select various filters relating to distance, delivery method etc. You are then provided with a list of Registered Apprenticeship Providers who offer the Apprenticeship you are looking at. It is then simply a case of contacting, discussing and choosing you Training Provider (although my advice is that you will have already done this rather than waiting until your Apprentice has been registered).
- Once you have registered your chosen Training Provider for that Apprentice, you will answer a few more questions following which the agreed funding is released into your Apprenticeship Account. All you then do is to give the go ahead for the Training Provider to access this and they will make everything happen from here!
Within 3 weeks of agreeing the Apprenticeship route with my employee, everything was up and running with very little time input on my part. There are Apprenticeships of all levels and types available, with educational value ranging from GCSEs to Degree level. It must be worth considering if you have a valued employee who you want to see develop and grow? “Simples” as a certain meerkat would say!