Why your business should reconsider apprenticeships

From the introduction of the levy to the launching of standards, apprenticeships have gone through a major shakeup over the last few years. As the sector settles, it’s important to understand the benefits these reforms can bring your business today.

Here Lifetime Training explain what’s changed, before highlighting the key benefits for your business. Whatever your preconceptions about apprenticeships, here’s why now is the best time to launch a programme.

Why is now the right time to invest in apprenticeships?

After a period of significant change, apprenticeships are beginning to settle. The levy has been in place since 2017, and all new apprentices will be on standards in the 2020/21 academic year.

With the reforms now in full swing, here’s why now is the time to invest in apprenticeships:

Standards meet the needs of industry

Apprenticeship standards put employers entirely in the driving seat for apprenticeship programme development. Standards are created by ‘trailblazer’ groups of employers and industry experts and are fully aligned with actual business needs.

This means learners develop the ‘industry standard’ of knowledge and skills in a specific occupation, as defined by leaders in the sector itself.

Programme quality has never been higher

Apprenticeship standards introduced an End-point Assessment period of up to three months, in which the learner is assessed by an independent assessor. This rigorous independent assessment means programmes are of a very high quality, and ensures learners are fully competent in their role.

Read more about End-point Assessment

Financial incentives for young apprentices

Apprenticeships are a great way of attracting young talent, providing a framework for continuous development through industry-leading skills. Apprenticeships attract young candidates that have made the decision to develop a career in your industry, improving retention rates.

Employers will receive a government bonus of £1,000 per learner aged between 16 and 18 years old. This £1,000 bonus is also extended for apprentices aged up to 24 who have a Local Authority Education, Health and Card plan.

Plus, employers don’t pay National Insurance contributions for apprentices below the age of 25.

Clear return on investment

Large employers with a payroll of more than £3 million will already be investing in apprenticeships by paying the apprenticeship levy. The funds do expire after two years, so it’s clearly important to utilise the levy to achieve a return on this investment.

Lifetime works with employers to align programmes with key business objectives to measure tangible business improvements from apprenticeships. Objectives may include the improvement of retention rates, upskilling of existing employees, or attracting new talent for hard-to-fill vacancies.

Supply chain development

Apprenticeship levy paying companies can transfer up to 25% of their annual levy to another employer to be used for apprenticeship training. This allows employers to develop their supply chain, drive improvements in the wider sector, or realise Corporate Social Responsibility aims.

Transferring apprenticeship levy is a good way of using funds that might otherwise expire.

Full funding for small businesses with young apprentices

Training costs for apprentices aged 16 to 18 will be fully funded for employers with less than 50 employees. These smaller employers will also get full funding training for apprentices aged up to 24 who have a Local Authority Education, Health and Card plan or are care leavers.

In addition to fully funded training, SME’s in these cases will still receive the £1,000 incentive bonus. Usually non-levied employers pay 5% of the training cost through the process of co-investment, with the government covering the remaining 95%.

Six benefits of apprenticeships for employers

Fill vacancies

Apprenticeships provide a framework to attract and retain employees who are actively looking to develop their skills. Lifetime’s apprenticeship recruitment service has a specialist team to find high quality managerial-level candidates.

Upskill existing employees

Around 70% training delivered by Lifetime is to existing employees, in employers looking to upskill existing team with the highest industry standards.

Provide a bridge for progression

Higher level apprenticeships are incredibly useful for supporting an employee transition to a more senior level. Learners will improve in confidence, develop industry-leading skills, and have the tools to drive improvements in your company.

Develop young employees

Apprenticeships are a great way of attracting and supporting young talent to develop within your company. Government incentives include a £1,000 bonus for 16 to 18-year-old apprentices, and no employer National Insurance contributions for apprentices younger than 25.

Tangible improvements through business projects

Programmes with business projects allow learners to focus directly on improving the everyday function of the business. Many business projects created by learners are subsequently adopted in the wider business.

Strengthen learning and development

Apprenticeship programmes will strengthen your existing L&D strategy, especially when aligned to internal career maps. Apprenticeships can help improve retention rates and support career progression.

Recent changes to apprenticeships

Apprenticeships have been a major focus for significant government reform, with the optimistic aim of 3 million new apprentice starts by 2020. Reforms focused on altering funding through the apprenticeship levy and improving programmes through new apprenticeship standards.

Apprenticeship levy

The launch of the levy significantly altered how apprenticeships are funded in England. Employers with a payroll of more than £3 million pay the apprenticeship levy and use the fund to pay for apprenticeship training. To ease the change there are a range of government financial incentives for both SME’s and large companies, which we’ll highlight later in the article. Find out more about the apprenticeship levy.


At the same time, new apprenticeship standards are being rolled out to replace the old system of frameworks. Hundreds of new standards have been created over the last few years across all industries. Any remaining frameworks will cease to be offered to new learners at the end of the 2020 academic year.

To understand the difference in more detail, read our guide to frameworks and standards.

Expert support from Lifetime Training

Lifetime Training has years of experience delivering award-winning apprenticeship training and will provide expert advice on every aspect of programme development and launch. Arrange a call back from Lifetime’s expert team to understand how your business can benefit from apprenticeships.

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The Portal is a tool for apprenticeship learners and managers to track learner progression and upload evidence.

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FUSE is an online learning community where apprenticeship learners can access resources, and interact with tutors and other learners.

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The Apprenticeship Job Board - click here to apply for apprenticeship jobs and view your applications. 

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