The apprenticeship levy
The apprenticeship levy requires large employers to contribute to apprenticeship funding, and is part of a wider series of reforms to the apprenticeship system.
From May 2017, employers with an annual pay bill of more than £3 million pay 0.5% of their total pay bill (NI-able gross pay) towards the apprenticeship levy. There is a ‘levy allowance’ of £15,000 per year. This means that the total amount employers need to pay is 0.5% of their pay bill, minus £15,000.
Example: An employer with an annual pay bill of £5,000,000 will need to spend £10,000 on the levy:
- levy sum: 0.5% x £5,000,000 = £25,000
- subtracting levy allowance: £25,000 - £15,000 = £10,000 annual levy payment
Levy payments must be paid each month, based on the employer’s monthly pay bill, and will be paid through the PAYE process in the same way that Income Tax and NI contributions are paid.
From 6 April 2017, employers will need to tell HMRC how much Apprenticeship Levy they owe each month from the start of the tax year. Employers will use the Employers Payment Summary (EPS) to report their Apprenticeship Levy liability.
‘Community schools’ are treated as part of the local authority, for the purposes of paying the levy, and are required to pay 0.5% of their total pay bill towards the levy. This applies regardless of the school’s total pay bill, as the local authority’s overall pay bill is greater than £3 million. LBH/HLT have worked with payroll providers to pay as well as report the levy so there is no action needed for community schools.
Voluntary-aided schools, foundation schools, free schools and academies are only required to pay the apprenticeship levy if their total pay bill is greater that £3 million.
Employers who pay the levy will be able to access an equivalent amount to what they have paid, plus a 10% top-up from government, through a new digital apprenticeship service account. Funds in this digital account may only be used to pay training providers to deliver apprenticeship training.
For more information view the Government guidance on the levy.
Setting up a digital account
Registration for the apprenticeship service has been opened since 1 April 2017.
All levy-paying voluntary-aided schools, foundation schools, free schools and academies can follow the relevant information and guidance on the process on the register to manage apprenticeship funds page of gov.uk.
All community maintained schools or any other schools paying the levy were previously instructed to set-up their own digital account, as part of the new digital apprenticeship service.
Hackney Council and Hackney Learning Trust have recently been informed by the ESFA/National Apprenticeship Service that, following a rule change, ‘community’ schools linked to Hackney Council should not have their own digital apprenticeship accounts. The reasoning we have been given by the ESFA/National Apprenticeship Service for this change is that:
“local authority maintained schools should not be registering an apprenticeship service account independently or as a connected company (public bodies cannot be connected companies) as this can only done by legal entities and local authority maintained schools are not legal entities for the purpose of the apprenticeship levy.”
This means that these schools must now access funding for apprenticeship training costs through Hackney Council, and not through their own accounts.
‘Community’ schools are defined as voluntary-controlled, and all other maintained schools. This does not apply to voluntary-aided schools, foundation schools, free schools and academies.
In order to access apprenticeship funds you will first need to set up a Government Gateway Account, if you have not already. This is where you will need to activate your school's PAYE scheme, if you have not already done so.
There are two sets of instructions, depending on whether you have already set up a digital apprenticeship account or not:
Please note that the digital apprenticeship account is a separate service/website from the government gateway. Schools who have not yet set up a digital apprenticeship account should not do this, as funds will be accessed through the council's digital apprenticeship account.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for any assistance.
How to recruit an apprentice
The Council's apprenticeship programme is aimed at creating employment opportunities for young people in Hackney and encourages all partners to meet the below criteria:
- Target young people aged 16-24 (for apprenticeships at level 4 and above, the age criteria and salary may be increased)
- Target Hackney residents, school leavers or young people for whom the council is a corporate parent, for example care leavers.
- Paying apprentices the London Living Wage (£9.75). We recognise this may not be realistic for all schools, and therefore our minimum recommended salary is £7ph.
If you would like to hire a new apprentice, or offer an apprenticeship qualification to an existing member of staff, please contact the Apprenticeship Programme Coordinator (Esmay Bear) or alternatively, the HLT OD HR business partner (Tatiana Pavlovsky), and we will be able to help you identify a suitable qualification and training provider, and access funds through the council’s digital apprenticeship account. Please note that these guidelines apply only to maintained schools, and not to Voluntary-aided schools, foundation schools, free schools and academies.
Apprentices will typically be new hires but the apprenticeship levy funds can also be used towards existing employees looking to complete a qualification. In the case of a new hire, we suggest the following recruitment process:
- Identify and define potential vacancy
- Identify a suitable vacant or new post
- Seek support, if required, from the HLT Organisational Development Business Partner to discuss potential apprenticeship roles
- Follow the school procedure to establish/replace a post
- Discuss and identify an appropriate qualification
- Identify local training providers available to deliver the selected training
- Plan the recruitment process and establish a rough timeline
- If a training provider has already been selected, they may be asked to deliver the initial stages of recruitment – sifting applications, testing candidates and shortlisting.
- Finalise the JD with the hiring manager. LBH/HLT can share some template JDs
- Finalise detailed timeline for recruitment
- Hiring manager finalise interview questions. Ensure interview questions are appropriate for apprentices
- Advertise the position. Apprenticeships can be advertised on the HLT and council website for no fee. Other usual channels can also be used. If the training provider delivers the initial stages of recruitment, they will be required to post the vacancy on the national apprenticeships service website
- Initial applications and any testing required take place
- Applications are screened and candidates are shortlisted for interview
- Feedback is given to unsuccessful candidates (referral to training/employability services where appropriate)
- Individual interviews take place
- Candidate is selected
- HR and hiring manager to carry out pre-employment checks and referencing
- Hiring manager to finalise training programme and provider and confirm enrolment / start date (if this has not been done already)
- Apprentice to sign apprenticeship agreement
- Sign the employment contract
- Apprenticeship begins
- Full induction
- Apprentice enrolled in training. This will usually take place within the first month of the apprenticeship, once the apprentice has settled in
- Employment is subject to 6 month probation period
Good practice - dos and don'ts
Below are some areas to consider:
- Job description: This should be written without jargon, and should not ask for prior experience
- Interview: You should be looking for potential/aptitude, not prior experience. An assessment is a good idea
- Salary: Good quality apprenticeships pay at least £7 per hour. The apprenticeship minimum wage is £3.50 per hour, but paying this amount is likely to impact the quality of applicant you attract, and the likelihood of them staying with you
Qualifications and training providers
When you set up an apprenticeship, you need to select a suitable qualification. This needs to be an approved apprenticeship ‘framework’ or ‘standard’.
The Apprenticeship Programme Coordinator (Esmay Bear) or alternatively, the HLT OD HR business partner (Tatiana Pavlovsky), can help you identify a suitable framework or standard as well as a training provider.
|Business and Administration||2-4||12-24 months||New apprentices/junior staff|
|Property Maintenance||2||12-18 months||New apprentices/junior staff|
|Supporting Teaching & Learning in Schools||2-3||12-18 months||New apprentices/junior staff|
|Early Years Educator (in development)||3||12-18 months||New apprentices/junior staff|
|Team Leader/Supervisor||4||18-24 months||Junior Managers|
|Operations/Departmental Manager||5||30 months||Senior Managers|
Selecting a training provider
We will support you to identify a suitable training provider and access funds to pay them through the council’s digital apprenticeship service.
Schools are welcome to identify their own providers, but please note that contracts and payment will need to be arranged through the council, using our digital apprenticeship account. If you are researching providers, you should consider:
- their track record in delivering your chosen qualification
- their achievement rates
- their Ofsted rating
- whether they are on the newly formed register of apprenticeship providers