Earlier this year, the UK Government launched an initiative designed to ramp up the UK’s commitment to apprenticeship programmes. The move comes at a time when the nation is facing the biggest tech skills deficit of all time, which is threatening to hamper businesses’ productivity.
With the Government also announcing a wave of educational reforms in this year’s Spring Budget to boost Britain’s technical prowess, this scheme further demonstrates ministers’ commitment to tackling the issue head on.
Yet while the scheme – which is part of the Government’s bid to create three million new apprenticeships by 2020 – should be lauded, many organisations remain in the dark over how it will affect them.
Every employer with a wage bill of over £3 million will pay a new 0.5% Apprenticeship Levy on their annual pay bill to help fund this initiative and boost training for millions of apprentices.
But recent research revealed that two thirds of UK employers have little or no knowledge of the new funding system, with just half (51%) of the large companies surveyed expecting to have to pay the levy at all.
Why tech skills today will be outdated tomorrow
In today’s market, technology is evolving rapidly, and employees right across the business are required to upskill. Coders for instance, are constantly tasked with learning new programming languages to keep up with the pace of change and develop apps and services for the digital age.
As a result, there is an ever-widening gap between what is being taught in Higher Education and the skills required for the working environment; something that could be addressed by the introduction of more short-term placements and on-the-job accreditations via apprenticeship schemes.
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Businesses therefore needn’t fear this change in legislation, but see it as an opportunity to both train up new recruits, and also upskill their current workforce. This is especially true given the fact that the age and previous qualification criteria for apprentices have been further relaxed.
Staying ahead of the curve
A carefully considered apprenticeship programme could make a significant difference to a business’ long-term competitiveness in the market. Those organisations that are savvy enough to make use of the levy funds now will be able to identify and address the tech skills gap they have today and in the future, putting them in the best possible position to respond to the changing market conditions.
Promisingly, 37% of employers who expect to pay the levy believe the number of new apprenticeship hires will increase, an encouraging sign that the funds made available through the tax will be put to good use.
>See also: Top tips to overcome IT skills shortages
While uncertainty remains over how the Apprenticeship Levy will affect many British businesses, what is clear is that organisations who sit up and take notice of the change in legislation have much to gain.
Apprenticeships are a valuable way for employers to gain the skilled workforce they need to grow and thrive and for apprentices to gain vital experience and certified qualifications.
It is recommended that all employers who are now paying the levy to make the most of the new funds available to them. Those that see it as just another tax will ultimately lose out – at a critical time for the UK, when investment in IT skills development is at an all-time high.
Sourced by Geoff Smith, managing director, Experis UK & Ireland
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