Employers that fall under the scope of the Apprenticeship Levy are keen to recoup their funds, so it’s somewhat unsurprising that many are transforming their graduate recruitment schemes to mitigate training spend and take advantage of new apprenticeship-based opportunities.
In this guide, we’ll explore the benefits - and drawbacks - of incorporating apprenticeships into your graduate recruitment programme and some of the areas that’ve proved most popular with employers to date.
A recent poll of 300 organisations in the engineering, financial services, law and accountancy sectors found that more than half of respondents were in the process of transitioning their graduate recruitment programmes to take advantage of the Apprenticeship Levy.
While this doesn’t necessarily mean cannibalising the entire initiative, the Levy is certainly a game-changer for graduate recruiters. Instead of taking on staff fresh out of university, employers can now opt to use degree apprenticeships to train up a home-grown crop of graduates.
This route has several inherent advantages over traditional graduate schemes - enabling employers to develop highly-qualified staff that are steeped in their processes and culture. There’s also an implicit cost efficiency, since staff taken on at lower levels will typically take a reduced starting salary, when compared to their graduate counterparts.
Transforming your graduate recruitment programme
The first route Levy-paying employers can opt for is a straightforward (or partial) switch from graduate to apprenticeship recruitment.
This involves selecting appropriate degree-level apprenticeship standards in areas of your business where you’ve identified (or anticipate) a growing talent gap. There’s a range of apprenticeship standards already available at this level, with many more in the pipeline.
Course content can now be customised to fit specific roles, but if you find the current selection of standards lacking, it’s also possible to join forces with others in your sector and participate in a working group to develop new standards to fit your particular needs.
However, it’s important to note that employers only get 24 months in which to recoup their Levy contributions (before they’re transferred to the general Levy pot), so if you’re opting to wait for a new standard to be approved or seek to develop your own as part of a Trailblazer group - be sure to factor in timescales when planning your Levy spend.
Once you’ve got your selection of standards pinned down, you’ll need to seek out promising prospects from pools of college leavers, or those who’ve completed a relevant higher apprenticeship (those of level 4 and above, many of which are equivalent to a foundation degree).
From there, they’re recruited into the organisation as normal and registered as an apprentice via the government’s online Apprenticeship Service.
Growing your graduates
The second possible route for those looking to put their Levy funds to good use is to utilise apprenticeship training to further-develop their current graduate recruits, or existing senior staff.
There’s a range of complementary qualifications that virtually any business can benefit from, developed by some of the country’s leading professional bodies, including:
- Project management
- Chartered Manager Degree
- Departmental Manager
- Software Developer
- Insurance Professional (level 4)
- Healthcare Assistant Practitioner (level 5)
- MSc in Manufacturing Leadership
Apprenticeships like these can offer a valuable way to mitigate your training spend and provide a tangible benefit to your business by developing the skills and qualifications of experienced or senior staff.
As with all apprenticeships, however, you’ll need to factor in time for off-the-job training and provide support for staff who are undertaking training, while simultaneously working in their regular role.
Through a blend of distance learning and tackling training in blocks of time, it’s possible to minimise disruption to day-to-day work, however, staff will also have to undertake an impartial end-point assessment before they can complete their training and gain their qualifications.
The end results can be fantastic for staff retention and morale, as well as helping to plug emerging or extant skills gaps and delivering long-term benefits to the business as trained-up staff bring enhanced knowledge of theory, techniques and processes to bear on their day job.
The bottom line
Whether you opt to completely transform your graduate recruitment scheme, or partially offset your training spend by recouping Levy funds - there’s a wealth of opportunities available.
Apprenticeship-based training is no longer confined to young new recruits, so whatever your circumstances, it’s well worth considering how you can use money you’ll be paying into the Levy for the best benefit of your business.
Hopefully, we’ve managed to highlight some previously-unconsidered apprenticeship avenues, but if you’ve got any questions about the topics discussed above - or anything Levy-related in general, be sure to get in touch via Twitter or LinkedIn.
And if you’re looking for hands-on support in tailoring your graduate recruitment scheme for apprenticeships - book an obligation-free consultation with our Levy team today: