Have you heard of the Apprenticeship Levy? According to the British Chambers of Commerce nearly half of all businesses have no clue what it is.

The Apprenticeship Levy comes into force in April 2017 and affects companies with a payroll of more than £3million per annum. Those companies are required to contribute 0.5% of their salary bill towards the funding of apprenticeships. This will be collected through PAYE.

That funding will then be available to all employers of any size to support apprenticeships in their work place.

There are of course concerns about how the funding will be used and those bigger businesses may feel that yet another tax is being added to their obligations. The plan is for those businesses who have contributed to have a guaranteed allocation of the funding raised but it appears not many employers so far feel that this will increase the number of apprentices they recruit.

Apprenticeships are not for the feint hearted – it takes a lot of commitment, time and effort on the part of the employer to really make it work for both the apprentice and the business. The additional funding may make taking on apprentices seem more appealing but it won’t take away that need for supervision, on the job training, time and patience while an apprentice learns new skills.

Training establishments and colleges need to really ensure that businesses know what they are committing to and don’t just shoehorn apprenticeships into a business that isn’t ready just so they can fulfil their placement requirements.

We’ve long believed that apprenticeships are a great resource for business but we have concerns about the quality of the training component of many apprentice schemes we’ve seen. There needs to be greater emphasis on quality training and skills development, and a push for apprenticeships in industry sectors and business areas that have the potential to lead to higher level job roles.

All of that said – when both a business and an apprentice make the commitment the rewards that they both reap are often fantastic!

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