Apprenticeships are throwing an exciting new option into the mix. Increasingly, employers are looking to spend their training and development budgets on their staff in order to upskill them in an area that will invigorate their business and ultimately increase staff retention.

The catalyst for this paradigm shift is the apprenticeship levy. Since April 2017, all employers with an annual wage bill over £3m have been mandated to pay 0.5% of their wage bill as a levy (effectively a tax) to a government pot of money. This pot of money is then accessible to the company to draw-back in order to fund apprenticeships. This is all in line with the government’s grand vision to create a massive increase in apprenticeships by the year 2020.

Now here’s where it gets interesting for Higher Education. Firstly, it is now possible to be an apprentice at all levels of learning, right up to Masters level. So forget the traditional notion of an apprentice who comes straight out of school to learn a trade. We are now seeing CEOs and FDs entertaining the thought of taking that Masters degree they never got around to in the form of an apprenticeship. HE degrees comprise only 6% of all apprenticeships at present, but industry forecasts set this at 18% in two years’ time

Secondly, if the levy money is not used within 24 months it is lost. Effectively, companies are seeing the levy as an enforced (or at least highly encouraged) training budget and want to spend it all rather than lose it. Furthermore, all levy money is up-lifted by 10% when it is extracted via PAYE and for levy payers, if they exceed their levy contributions any additional expenditure is 90% funded by the government under a scheme called co-investment. There aren’t many deals like it – put in £100 and you get training worth £1,000. When you’re talking degrees that’s big bang for your buck! For smaller companies who do not pay the levy, further news is expected in 2018 so watch this space.

At the University of Lincoln, we recognise that degree apprenticeships are not just about the money (although that’s important) – this is about the people. For a tranche of employees, many of whom have gravitated into leadership because they are technically very good, this is a once in a life-time opportunity to gain the qualifications that match their skills. For employers, there is a huge incentive to spend on staff development and reap the rewards that this brings. 

At the Lincoln International Business School (LIBS) there are a range of degree apprenticeships to take advantage of, including the Chartered Managers Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA) which, over the course of three to four years allows the student to gain a full BA Hons degree, Chartered Manager status with the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), and establish networks and skills that will help them to flourish. Anyone interested in the opportunities available at LIBS can contact [email protected] for more information.