More information on choosing a provider before the apprenticeship levy begins is needed, says Jill Whittaker, managing director of HIT Training
The apprenticeship levy is a topic which has divided the hospitality industry. Some operators welcome it, others are against it, and many have been left confused about what it is and what it will mean.
From April 2017, apprenticeships will require a mandatory employer contribution, either via the levy (for businesses with an annual payroll over £3m) or a 10% contribution. As a result, there will be many employers implementing an apprenticeship scheme for the first time, who have never worked with a training provider or college before and are just as confused about the process of choosing one as they are about the levy itself. If you're feeling this way, don't worry, there are some simple ways to make sure you get it right.
Finding the right training partner to suit the individual needs of your business is fundamental to the success of your apprenticeship programme, and there are a number of criteria to consider before making your final choice. Here are a few tips to provide a good starting point for your research:
- Just like schools and colleges, all training providers with government contracts are subject to regular Ofsted inspections. These will provide an independent opinion on the effectiveness of leadership and management within the training provider and the quality of their teaching, learning and assessment.
- Market research company Ipsos Mori regularly compiles learner and employer satisfaction scores on behalf of the government. These capture the experiences of the training and are indicators of what you can expect from the provider.
- It's imperative to make sure your training provider is financially secure to minimise the risk of the company going out of business part-way through an apprenticeship. All training providers go through an accreditation process to join the approved register of apprenticeship providers and this includes a financial check. Until the new register is ready, a training provider with a credible history and direct contract with the Skills Funding Agency is a good starting point.
- If your business has outlets across the UK, finding a training provider with the ability to deliver apprenticeships in each of these locations will help to deliver a consistent quality of training across your business. Multi-site employers can make the whole process easier by working with just one specialist training provider and one point of contact.
- There are a few different accreditations that training providers can work towards, such as the People 1st Gold Accreditation. Such accreditations are a robust, independent third-party endorsement from industry associations and indicate that you can expect a high level of delivery from an apprenticeship provider.
The levy puts the control of apprenticeships into the hands of the employer, and offers significant flexibility when it comes to how they are delivered. In the lead up to April 2017, when the levy comes into play, having an understanding of what to look for in a provider will ultimately help to determine the success of apprenticeships across your business and the sector as a whole.
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