How is the apprenticeship levy being used for existing and new staff?

Apr 18, 2023 | Apprentices & school leaver, Home Featured, Research

ISE’s Student Development Survey sheds light on how employers are using the apprenticeship levy to train existing and new staff.

This year’s Student Development Survey reveals the responses of 162 employers. The majority of respondents (77%) reported that they were recruiting apprentices, and other types of non-graduate entry-level hires.

This is a substantially higher proportion of respondents recruiting apprentices than in 2022 (68%) or 2021 (60%), suggesting a growing interest in this part of the market. In total, respondents reported that 13,385 apprentices had joined their organisations in 2021/2022.

You can read more about employers shifting attention to apprentices.

How much of the levy is spent?

Employers are unable to spend all of their levy money. They reported that they were spending on average 45% of the apprenticeship levy, which is similar to the previous year (47%).

However, the percentage of the levy that was spent differed between sectors. The sector that used most of the apprenticeship levy was the built environment, which spent 69% of the levy, whereas the legal sector spent 21% of the levy.

How is the levy used?

A majority (84%) of organisations in our sample were delivering apprenticeship programmes. The apprenticeship programmes delivered were at a range of different levels with Level 3 and Level 4 being the most predominant.

The average apprenticeship enrolment rate for school and college leavers and other non-graduate entry-level starters in 2021/2022 was 79%.

Respondents reported that 28% of people, on average, enrolled on their apprenticeship programmes were existing staff. Aon shared how they are using the levy to engage existing staff as well as school leavers.

A much smaller proportion were using apprenticeships to develop their graduate hires (16%), but this varied across sectors with 45% of graduates in the health and pharmaceuticals sector on an apprenticeship scheme, whereas none of the graduates within the legal sector were on an apprenticeship scheme.

How are apprenticeships delivered?

Most (93%) respondents used an external apprenticeship provider to deliver their apprenticeship programmes. Only 15% of respondents delivered apprenticeship training themselves as an employer provider.

The length of apprentice development programmes varied between three months and 72 months (six years), with average duration being 31 months (2.58 years), two months shorter on average than last year.

This did vary by sector with the legal sector offering these development programmes of 40 months on average, whereas respondents in the retail, FMCG and tourism sector averaged 23 months of these development programmes.

The intensity of these programmes (measured by training days per year) also varied from four days per year to 170 days per year; however, the average organisation offered 47 days of training per year on their apprentice development programmes, four days fewer on average than last year.

The intensity of training for apprentices is much higher than for graduates (average of 26 days per year) because apprenticeships include the requirement that 20% of trainees’ time is spent in off the job training.

It is noteworthy that the intensity of training programmes varies by sector, with the energy, engineering and industry sector offering, on average, 83 days. On the other hand, employers in the built environment and legal sectors offer their apprentices 34 days of training and development.

You can read more about the sector breakdown and design of apprenticeships in ISE’s Student Development Survey 2023.

You may also be interested in reading…

How to use apprenticeships to maximise business growth

Graduate programmes and apprenticeships now hybrid, but mental health issues increase

What is the average apprentice and school leaver salary?

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