Businesses should seize the opportunity that the Apprenticeship Levy brings

06 March 2017
Image of Amey employees zip lining.
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This month sees the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, the government’s initiative to ensure big organisations get serious about apprenticeship programmes.

The Apprenticeship Levy is a central plank in the government’s ambition to get three million new apprentices started by 2020. It sees all employers operating in the UK, with a pay bill over £3 million each year, facing an additional 0.5% tax, which can be recouped through subsidies for training apprentices.

Of course any new piece of legislation is not without its critics. The Institute of Fiscal Studies recently branded it “poor value for money”, highlighting the risk that the apprentice “brand” could be devalued and become “just another term for training”. Reactions from businesses are also mixed, with some viewing the new initiative as disruptive to their existing training programmes – why must they hire apprentices according to a government-set framework when their current training schemes appear to be working perfectly fine?

While some of these points may well be valid for certain businesses, we have a long history of hiring apprentices at Amey. We are on course to hire our 500th apprentice this year, with 230 currently on our programme and the rest in roles across Amey, having completed their apprenticeships.

Earn while you learn

It’s well known that one of the central benefits of being an apprentice is that you get to ‘earn while you learn’, combining formal study with real work that pays. But we believe that we have one of the best apprenticeship programmes out there. Because we are such a big business that operates in many sectors we can offer a huge range of apprenticeships from hands-on roles such as arboriculture, highways maintenance or smart metering to more office-based work such as finance, IT and customer service. In total, we are able to offer over 70 different types of apprenticeships.

Our apprentices come from a rich range of backgrounds. But we’re constantly looking to recruit from all sectors of society and become even more diverse as we’re committed to making our workforce reflect the communities in which we work. We also want to recruit apprentices of all ages – there’s no age limit in terms of applying for an Amey apprenticeship.

We strongly believe in investing in our apprentices

But why apply for an apprenticeship with Amey and not one of our competitors? With the arrival of the levy, we will now be competing with more businesses for applicants but we’re confident our programme takes some beating. We strongly believe in investing in our apprentices, allowing them to gain the skills and confidence that will serve them through a long career with us. That’s why we offer all eligible apprentices the opportunity to enrol onto the DofE Gold Business Award Programme. The programme gives people the opportunity to develop life-skills like problem-solving and team working, which of course are vital in the workplace. Very few businesses offer this to their apprentices.

For our part, we want hard-working and enthusiastic people who are looking to develop and grow their careers within Amey, and who want to really make a difference to local communities. There’s a strong shared belief at Amey that we create better places to live, work and travel. We play a key role in enhancing the everyday experience of citizens, commuters and workers by maintaining the railways, roads, buildings and services on which they depend.

Apprentices have a key role in our local communities

Apprentices have a key role in this. From the moment they join us, they will be directly involved in this work. But they are also the supervisors, project managers and team leaders of tomorrow. Who knows, maybe even Managing Directors.

Our apprentices are a valued pipeline of talent within our organisation and play a crucial role in the delivery of our services. So while some companies may bristle at this new levy, it is also an opportunity for them to embrace the value that apprentices can bring – apprenticeships are certainly key to the current and future success of our business.

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