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It’s not often that an offer of free money comes along, and yet, right now SME’s can benefit from 90% funding to develop their leaders and managers. Unfortunately, many small business owners are missing this opportunity because of confusion and misinformation, not to mention negative press coverage about the Apprenticeship Levy. Before you write it off and miss out, make sure you know the facts.

Do you recognise any of the following in your business?

• Growing business, but skills gaps lead to difficulties succession planning
• Managers lack the confidence to have difficult conversations and make decisions
• Technically proficient people struggle to manage their people
• Managers fail to delegate effectively to their teams, resulting in poor productivity

If any of these are true for your business you will end up being pulled away from the strategic, back into the detail, spending your time working in the business rather than working on it.

And if you’re not focusing on the future needs of the business to ensure it keeps growing, who else will?

Of course, many small business owners recognise these challenges, but lack the funds to invest in developing their staff. That’s where the Apprenticeship Levy comes in.

The government has ring-fenced £650m of funding to increase the provision of apprenticeships within SME’s and yet, wrongly, many small business owners write this off as irrelevant. So, let’s dispel a few of the main myths:

4 Apprenticeship Levy myths exposed

1. You have to be new to the workplace to do an apprenticeship.

Gone are the days when you had to be 16-24 and wet-behind-the-ears to qualify. Yes, there is an image problem to get over, but you don’t have to call the people in your business who undertake them ‘apprentices’ to their peers. These are recognised Leadership and Management Diplomas, Degrees and Masters’ qualifications, they just happen to be funded by the Apprenticeship Levy.

2. You can’t use it to develop your existing staff.

Following on from the above point, many small businesses aren’t in a position where they can afford to hire new people – however great that need might be – so developing your existing staff is vital. Apprenticeship Levy funds are specifically designed to be used for experienced staff. Gone are the days when if you had a degree you couldn’t undertake a Level 3 or 5 management diploma with government funding.

3. You have to spend 20% of your time off-the-job.

This one puts a lot of people off and stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of how the new apprenticeship standards have been designed. Yes, there are some classroom-based workshops to develop the knowledge base required and a few assignments to complete, but the majority of the time is spent applying this knowledge to develop skills in the workplace. The 20% requirement is how much time candidates should spend applying what they learn and evidencing it. It includes taking on work-based business improvement projects, coaching and mentoring, shadowing and so on. A quality provider will work with you to devise a tailored programme for each learner to ensure that in completing their apprenticeship they add real value to your business.

4. You can’t benefit if you don’t pay into the Levy

Since December 2017, this has changed. The government has released a pot of funding for SMEs. If you have a wage bill of under £3m then you qualify for 90% funding towards any apprenticeships. This includes the popular Leadership and Management Diplomas. The following discounts apply:

Interested to find out more about how you and your business could benefit from this funding?

Visit our case studies to see how others are benefitting, or for free advice call us on 0333 323 9690.