Apprenticeship levy pilot helping employers make the most of their levy funds

Tanja Kuveljic, chief executive of the charity Believe in Young People, discusses one approach to matching young people with the right options for work and helping employers to make the best use of the apprenticeship levy.

It is less than 12 months until the introduction of the government’s apprenticeship levy, and there are still a great deal of unknowns.

We’d been promised more information this month, but with Brexit, this has been delayed. Employers, including many FE institutions, are still unclear how they can maximise the opportunities it will offer or costs it will incur.

We are all acutely aware that hiring young people can be resource intensive – with inductions, training and investment needed from the start.

I am privileged to work for the charity Believe in Young People (BiYP), which brings together educators and employers to develop and prepare young people for future employment through an integrated curriculum programme.

The programme provides personalised information, advice and guidance (IAG), employer-led workshops, careers talks, mentoring and structured work-experience placements alongside their curricular studies, so that young people leave school with the much needed skills and behaviours to enter the world of work.

A recent Institute of Education evaluation credited BiYP with providing colleges and schools with an alternative model for careers advice which integrates the approaches currently used by different institutions before and after the age of 16. Using our digital platform, employability skills testing and feedback is carried out by teachers, employers and learners so that progress is measured and understood.

This systematically matches the learner with suitable employment opportunities, pinpointing the skills which learners need to be hone the most.

Ultimately, when learners take on entry level jobs or apprenticeships, they’re ready to work and less burdensome for employers. This has been demonstrated by BiYP’s programme so far, which has seen employers achieve up to 80% recruitment cost savings whilst taking on more work-ready youngsters.

Despite the uncertainty many employers currently have, they will have decisions to make about how to spend their levy funds and will undoubtedly be looking to make efficiencies in the process of hiring young talent. Employer needs will have to be increasingly reflected in the way educational institutions implement careers guidance.

When BiYP employer partners use their levy funds to take on apprentices, they will be able to take on more high quality apprentices, and schools and colleges will be key partners in achieving this.

Over the next year, BiYP is leading an innovative pilot, aimed at demonstrating the value of delivering employer-led careers guidance and structured work experience placements at secondary school level so that young people are more prepared for taking on an apprenticeship when they leave.

Employer needs will have to be increasingly reflected in the way educational institutions implement careers guidance.

The pilot brings together large UK employers, schools and colleges and is supported by organisations including the Confederation of British Industry, Association of Employment and Learning Providers, National Union of Students, Association of Teachers and Lecturers and University College London. BiYP will deliver and measure the programme, with UCL leading on a research study which will include a series of employer, educator and young people case studies from the participating partners.

The pilot will measure the transition of young people from the BiYP programme into apprenticeships and their retention and productivity as apprentices.

This in turn will provide a significant insight into the financial feasibility of the levy for employers, and provide a comparison of the economic impact on employers in different UK target regions.

Nick Boles, the minister for skills, recently announced to the House of Commons that ‘apprenticeships are for everyone’.

If this is to be true, the system for how apprentices are employed needs to be more comprehensive, pulling together employers, educators and young people. Only with this collaboration will apprentices be truly valuable to young people and employers and be worthwhile for schools and colleges to recommend as a route to employment.

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