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How to make the most of the apprenticeship levy

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UCEM provides apprenticeships for the built environment and partners with businesses to manage their apprenticeship programmes from recruitment and training to ongoing support.

The apprenticeship levy came into force on 6 April 2017 and aims to fund three million apprenticeships by 2020. However, many businesses are yet to begin developing an apprenticeship recruitment strategy – let alone implementing one.

If businesses don’t plan out their approach, soon they could miss out on securing the top talent and education providers – or risk losing their funds altogether.

One issue is that while the built environment sector is well known for hiring apprentices, for some the introduction of the levy will mean considering apprenticeships for the very first time. And for others, apprenticeships are still purely used to bring in entry-level talent.

It’s time to consider the bigger picture. Apprenticeships can help to put the required skills in place to drive organisations’ objectives, not just to meet the needs of today but also the requirements in years to come.

The education of the younger generation in built environment disciplines is key to solving the skills gap; it helps ensure talent continues to enter the industry in all areas and at all levels.

Planning is key

For some organisations, the levy could bring hundreds of new apprentices into the workplace. However, they may not have considered scaling their operations to provide additional support services, such as mentoring.

“To attract top talent, companies must consider the qualifications that apprentices will receive, so securing the right education provider is vital”

For those who already run an apprenticeship scheme, it’s tempting to simply scale up the existing programme – but companies must futureproof and take into account where it needs to be in five years’ time.

To attract top talent, companies must consider the qualifications that apprentices will receive, so securing the right education provider is vital.

Considerations should include a partner that offers more than just an educational function – one that moulds the training to business goals and provides an end-to-end apprenticeship management service, helping to source apprentices and support them along the whole journey.

Consider existing talent

Apprenticeships can also be used to progress existing talent as part of engagement and retention. It’s worth thinking about whether there are any people already in the organisation that would benefit from apprenticeships.

Apprenticeship schemes offer an excellent toolset for addressing workforce strategies. If the built environment sector wants to spend its levy fund wisely, it should be thinking more laterally about how apprenticeships can be used to solve current and future skills challenges.

Ashley Wheaton is principal and CEO at the University College of Estate Management

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