How Leidos' apprenticeship levy is helping fuel the diverse and dynamic future of UK apprenticeships
Apprenticeships have come a long way since the 1563 Statute of Artificers established regulations concerning the training of young men as butchers, bakers and candlestick makers. Today, anyone over the age of 16 can take up an apprenticeship in any one of 800 different skilled trades — from cybersecurity and software architecture to tailoring or saddle making.
Yet increasingly few people are choosing to go the route of gaining experience as an apprentice. Since 2014 the number of people starting an entry-level apprenticeship in the U.K. has plummeted by 72%. Surprisingly this isn't due to a lack of funds to support them.
“Companies with an annual pay bill of more than £3 million, pay a sort of tax at a rate of 0.5% of their total pay wage bill into a levy for apprenticeship training costs, but they only have two years to use those funds, before it expires and it goes to the treasury," explains Suneal Ram Kissun, senior account manager at the London Progression Collaboration. “Over the four years since the scheme was introduced, £3.5 billion of those unspent funds have gone unused."
In 2020, the London Progression Collaboration was founded to help companies more efficiently channel their unspent apprenticeship levy towards smaller businesses, who don’t reach the levy paying threshold, allowing them to provide training for individuals seeking it.
“We act as an intermediary, an honest broker that makes the process seamless," Suneal Ram Kissun explains. “By giving up 25 percent of their levy, larger businesses can help a small or medium enterprise to cover a hundred percent of the cost — this covers the cost of training with an approved apprenticeship provider.”
To date, the London Progression Collaboration has secured over £13.5 million in levy funds, of which £10 million has been used to support over 300 businesses with the costs of training. Leidos had unspent apprenticeship levy funds so partnering with the London Progression Collaboration was the obvious choice.
, Training Manager, Leidos
It's crucial that we have a diverse pipeline of talent coming into the technology sector, and to support that, we need to start expanding where we look to fill job requisitions. But the administration burden for administering these apprenticeships is a minefield. It made perfect sense to collaborate with an organisation for whom this is their sole purpose.
So far, the London Progression Collaboration has helped direct those funds towards supporting a male and a female apprentice, one of whom has confirmed refugee status, to undertake a level 4 software development programme with London-based innovation agency, Social Workshop.
"Beyond the benefit an apprenticeship can have for the mental wellness of the apprentice themselves, there's also the impact it can have socially for their family," Ram Kissun says. “Then there's the impact it can have for the business by connecting them with committed individuals who are developing the skills that will give them a competitive advantage. In turn, that helps the industry more broadly by building a qualified workforce to be called upon. And, ultimately, this helps create a society in which every individual has a pathway to a sustainable job, to financial resilience and to opportunities from lifelong learning."