Last week we saw a flurry of articles and features in the media claiming that organisations who were spending their levy money on apprenticeships for existing employees were not adhering to the ‘spirit of the levy’.
Those who are spending their levy on leadership and management programs were apparently the worst culprits of all!
In my experience, having spent the past two years working with organisations to navigate the complex world of apprenticeships regulation, my view is somewhat different. The majority of organisations genuinely believe in developing their talent. They want to use their levy pot strategically to prepare their people for the future of work and to support their strategic business strategy. Many of them have never hired 18-year olds and are therefore not able to support this new talent pipeline. We have found that the best way to prepare them to support and develop this new population is to broaden their management capability.
The clients we work with are using their levy in many ways to develop their talent and improve their management capability. For example, one sports body hires professional athletes with incredible technical knowledge about performance but with no management capability. They are currently using the Leadership and Management standard to develop leadership behaviours and good practice across the organisation.
Another client began by creating a future leader’s program with their new graduate population. They have since realised that they can hire into their trades and technical pathways through school leaver programs. Having gone through the process they have a better understanding of the apprenticeship opportunity and have a cohort of managers who can support more junior new hires who will follow them.
I strongly believe that creating digital academies that upskills current employees and creates a common digital language across an organisation is within the spirit of the Levy. As it ensures an we are growing populations who understand the digital world of work. Surely this is a great way to maximise the apprenticeship opportunity?
If the Apprenticeship Levy is to be the national long-term solution to our low productivity and under employment of young people, then we need to use it to create support networks and talent pathways within organisations before we can start to recruit and develop school leavers.
Changing mindsets takes time, both of young people leaving school to understand there are other options than University and employers to realise that 18 years olds are not as high risk as they fear them to be.
Likewise, with growing concerns of levy funds not being spent and apprenticeship starts being at an all-time low; I believe that those organisations who are boldly and strategically maximising the levy should be applauded. These are the real trailblazers.
Click here for more information about the Apprenticeship Levy.