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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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