The impact of ignoring a skills gap in your organisation

November 8, 2018

The benefits of apprenticeships for existing employees

January 22, 2019

Apprenticeship Levy: Use it or lose it

The Apprenticeship Levy was introduced on 6th April 2017, yet in the first 18 months, employers had only used 14% of their funds. The Skills Minister, Anne Milton, recently revealed that there was a whopping £2.9 billion unspent from the employers’ apprenticeship service accounts at the end of September 2018.

What many levy-paying employers may not realise is that they only have 24 months to use the levy in their account for apprenticeship training. The Apprenticeship Levy started being credited in May 2017 together with an additional 10% contribution from government. So if that month’s levy is not fully spent by the end of May 2019 it will go back to the Treasury. Levy paying employers, therefore, need to be spending at least the value of their monthly levy on apprenticeship activity to avoid losing that opportunity.

The government’s original aim was to introduce 3 million additional apprenticeships in England by 2020, however, with current figures this target doesn’t seem likely. For organisations in the water utility sector, apprenticeships can add significant value to operational teams and the new employer-led standards mean that the training will meet their business needs.

There are still many misconceptions when it comes to apprenticeships – are they just for young people or only an entry-point for a skills-based industry? This is no longer true and a wide range of companies are utilising the apprenticeship levy to train and upskill their existing workforce. In a recent government survey, it was revealed that people aged 25 and over account for almost 50% of apprenticeship starts and 92% of apprentices in work felt that their apprenticeship had a positive impact on their career.

Across the two companies, Watertrain and Intelligencia Training, we are seeing a significant increase in the number of levy paying employers utilising apprenticeships to upskill personnel. The two programmes in demand are the Level 3 Water Process Technician Standard and the Level 4 Apprenticeship in Intelligence Operations – both provide significant value through the enhancement of knowledge and skills to increase effectiveness and efficiency.

Watertrain are engaging with a range of water companies across the country who are now using their levy to train and up-skill people in their organisations. One of our apprentices at Northumbrian Water recently spoke of his role in a multi-agency safety exercise and of his apprenticeship as a whole – watch here

Intelligencia Training are working with a number of public and private sector organisations who want to use the levy to give existing staff new skills and knowledge with the cutting-edge intelligence programme. For example, a number of local authorities have enrolled staff from numerous functions across multiple departments onto this programme.

Alison Brown, Trading Standards Officer, Public Protection, Central Bedfordshire Council, said:

“I would say to any employee looking to upskill through an apprenticeship to ‘go for it.’  It will give you a new lease of life, especially if you have been in the same job for a long time like I have.”

If you are in need of further information to gain a full grasp of how the apprenticeship funding works, please see the ‘Apprenticeship funding: rules and guidance for employers’ published by the Skills Funding Agency and ‘Apprenticeship funding: how it will work’ from the Department for Education.

About Watertrain

Watertrain has been the leading provider of apprenticeships and other qualifications to the water utility sector since 2007 and have a long track record of delivering apprenticeships for clients in the water utility sector. Based in Birchwood Park, Warrington, you can contact Watertrain on 03330 431 431 or email