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Apprentice Levy: variety, culture, retention, succession and Leadership

Apprentice Levy: variety, culture, retention, succession and leadership

Apprentice Levy: variety, culture, retention, succession and leadership

We interviewed learning and development professionals, and asked them what they thought was the biggest opportunity in L&D. Not surprisingly, the apprentice levy came out as number one in the list of their top five.

Reassuringly, it seems that most L&D professionals are aware of the significance and potential impact from the levy. It’s the same message we have heard from many of our clients, and it is the inspiration behind two trailblazer leadership and management apprentice programmes we now run.

The Apprentice Levy is such a new subject, many people are still feeling their way through the information, requirements and opportunities. We’ve been posting regular advice on our apprentice site.

However, the focus on the apprentice levy does vary across organisations. Although the apprentice levy was ranked number one in terms of the top opportunities, it wasn’t at the top of the list for every company. This rather begs the question, “why isn’t the apprentice levy no1 for every organisation, what could be a bigger opportunity than that?”

Looking closer at the other opportunities that ranked in the list, gives us an indication of what the answers might be. Variety of learning, culture change, retention and succession and leadership and management, all featured in the top five list.

Variety of learning

The people we interviewed spoke about how technology and demand has led to an increasing diversity of learning options. So many different learning avenues are available to organisations and learners. With increasing variety should also come increasing choice and access. Some organisations saw access to the variety of learning available, as key to their success.

Culture Change

Culture change, ranked as the third biggest opportunity, which was not surprising as this remains a perennial issue for organisations. Here people we talked with spoke about “pushing behavioural change” and “making sure there was a sense of belonging”.

Retention and Succession

Retention and succession ties into this feeling of belonging, with respondents talking about “keeping talent inside the company” and reducing staff turnover. Perhaps this will be an increasingly important feature of organisations, given the characteristics of millennials and generation Z.


The final opportunity within the top five was leadership, but specifically related to the development of front line managers. Here, people spoke about the requirement to improve the skills of first line management.

So, to return to the earlier question – “what could possibly be a greater opportunity than the apprentice levy?” Its appears that organisations are looking toward some of the more familiar areas of learning and development. Clearly these are all important areas, but does this mean they should be prioritised ahead of the levy?

Apprentice Levy: Linking culture, retention, succession, leadership and variety.

Maybe its not an either-or situation: perhaps there are opportunities to address several opportunities at once. Apprentice levy funded leadership and management programmes, have the potential to tick more than one opportunity box.

An apprentice programme doesn’t only support the development of the individual. It can also support the promotion of wider culture change in an organisation. Understanding the importance of culture, values and behaviour should form an essential part of any leadership and management apprentice programme. As an example, Dove Nest’s leadership and management programmes, mapped to ILM levels 3 and 5, have these themes running as a thread throughout the programme.

In terms of developing front line management, an apprentice levy funded programme in leadership and management provides a clear solution. Investing in the development of front line managers, has obvious pay offs for improving the professionalism and skills of this important management layer. In addition, it also has the potential to improve retention and help develop a succession plan.

An apprenticeship programme can form part of a solid foundation from which the potential managers of the future can be identified and coached. Investing in an individual by supporting them through a management apprenticeship, has implications for retention, as it sends a clear message to that person of how valued they are by the organisation.

On the issue of the variety of learning avenues and access to different learning tools, this can also tie into the apprentice levy. A good apprenticeship provider should give clients and learners access to a diversity of learning materials. Some of the best programmes take a blended approach to learning, including: self-guided learning, theoretical understanding, experiential events, reflective learning, coaching and collaboration, all of which will be supported with enhanced online and mobile learning portals.

In summary, it is no surprise that the apprentice levy comes in at pole position in terms of opportunities for organisations. The other areas in the top five remain the perennial issues which organisations face. Working with the right learning partner, organisations have the potential to address several opportunities, in one fell swoop.

For advice of leadership and management Apprenticeships,  questions on the Levy, or solutions to development challenges, please get in touch either by calling us on 015395 67878, email us at or visit our dedicated website

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Apprentice Levy Documenting Learning

Apprentice Levy Documenting Learning

Apprentice Levy Documenting Learning

Documenting apprentice learning represents simultaneously one of the biggest challenges, and biggest opportunities of the apprentice levy programmes.

Continuing the Apprentice levy advice theme, we’re going to briefly discuss 3 topics:

  1. The necessity for documenting the learning
  2. The risks from not doing it
  3. How to make documenting learning it easy.

1 – The Necessity for Documenting learning.

The Apprentice – documenting learning provides proof that new skills have been developed, but also as evidence to support a recognised qualification at the end of the apprenticeship. Any documents can also help reinforce the learning, as they act as a reference, which can be consulted when the situation requires. For the learners, it is vital that they not only construct their individual portfolio of evidence, but that they also have Personal Development Plans and Learning Logs.  Both can either be created by the learner to suit their style or follow organisational specific forms.

The employer – needs to have some record that new skills have been developed, to be confident that the apprentice can step up to the new role, equipped with the tools essential for success. Documenting learning is also a great way of monitoring and supporting progress. Without a regular progress record, the apprentice may be quietly struggling. Sharing a development record allows line managers to provide any extra support that might be needed.

The Provider – needs to use the same evidence to demonstrate both proof of delivery and attainment of learning outcomes. This evidence is essential when it comes to audits and inspection from Ofsted and the ESFA.

2 – The Risks from not Documenting Learning

The Apprentice – if learning isn’t documented, then in all likelihood the apprentice will not complete their programme, as they will lack the evidence to complete their End Point Assessment. Any ambitions of achieving a recognised qualification would also be lost.

The employer – not documenting learning leaves the organisation open to functional and financial risks. If the employer places the apprentice in the new position, but doesn’t have the record of learning, what is there to guarantee that the individual is equipped to perform. In addition, the levy funds that were allocated to support the learner, without evidence of learning, would be re-claimed and with the possibility that access to future funds be frozen for a while.

The Provider – without documentary evidence of learning, levy funding would not only be cut, but could also be reclaimed back, retrospectively. Therefore, it is in the provider’s interest to ensure not only that programmes are delivered, but that there is evidence to support the delivery.

3 – How to make Documenting Learning Easy.

Technology can provide the solution to turn documenting learning from a challenge into an opportunity. Providers who complement their programmes with an online learning portal can add enormous value to both the apprentice and the employer:

  • Recording and documenting learning activities
  • Storing information which can be referred to at a future point
  • Connecting apprentices together in a network of learning and business support
  • Putting apprentices in touch with facilitators, apprentice providers to answer questions
  • Uploading source material for the programme, videos, audio, online workbooks.
  • Providing the evidence for the End Point Assessment

When researching an apprentice provider, it is worthwhile taking time to understand how they will support the of the apprentice learning journey. If the provider can also offer an e-learning platform, that would clearly be a bonus.

For more information on how to document learning, or what to look for in an e-learning platform,  or to have an informal conversation with one of our experts, please get in touch either by calling us on 015395 67878, email us at or visit our dedicated website