Blog: Why employers should use the Apprenticeship Levy to upskill credit control teams
15 November 2017
Fiona Macaskill is the Credit Services Association’s Head of Learning & Development.
Credit control is a core function for all businesses and organisations, even those outside of the credit sector. It’s vital for organisational development and performance and employers are waking up to the fact that as a business function, it can’t exist within a ‘silo’ and needs to be part of a long term strategic approach rather than short term cost-cutting or cash flow management. The skill-set needed to undertake roles in this area is complex and requires emotional intelligence as well as commercial and regulatory awareness. It increasingly involves new technologies and in-depth customer interaction plus the need to look at the ‘bigger picture’ of both the customer’s and the organisation’s needs and issues.
For public sector organisations in particular, having the right people working in credit control with the right processes, systems, and approach can have a big impact on efficiency and performance.
Low take up of apprenticeships – why aren’t employers using their Levy funds?
The Apprenticeship Levy is now in full force for all employers with a payroll of more than £3m – but take up is low. With so much choice in terms of training providers and end point assessors, and so many decisions to make about how use of Levy funds can most effectively feed into long term workforce development, plus concerns over the impact of “off the job training”, employers are struggling to spend it effectively. We are also aware from speaking to our levy paying members, there is a concern around extra resource required to manage an apprentice/apprenticeship programme and this is also slowing down early uptake.
There are also some myths and misconceptions about who apprenticeships are for and what they involve which are holding some employers back. The new apprenticeship standards are designed for people at all levels within the organisation and rather than being about short term practical training, they are now designed as part of a career pathway of ongoing learning and development. The end point assessment also gives both the learner and the employer a proper ‘stamp of approval’ that increases employability, social mobility, and performance. Barclays ‘Not your average apprenticeship’ scheme, which offers many programmes for established workers and those seeking to re-enter the jobs market, illustrates this perfectly and was showcased by the bank’s Mike Thompson at our UK Credit & Collections Conference in September. This ‘whole organisation’ approach will also help to attract new talent into credit and collections roles/careers.
Focus on core functions
While there remains uncertainty amongst employers and some don’t have properly developed workforce development strategies, a good place to start is core business functions.
Apprenticeships are a fantastic route to recruiting and retaining essential players in the credit control function – and all employers can be sure they will get a return on investment from quality training and development in this area of the business.
Choosing the right training provider
Reformed apprenticeships put employers in control and give learners and organisations better outcomes. But, it seems that many don’t know where to start and are overwhelmed by all the advice and support that is being offered by different training and end point assessment providers.
When choosing a training provider, employers need to consider more than just what apprenticeship standards they are able to offer. Combining industry experience/knowledge with L&D capability will mean that employers get the best fit for purpose training for staff in specific areas of the business.
As the UK trade association for the debt collection and debt purchase industry, we can draw on our members’ best practice expertise in credit services and debt collection, our in-depth knowledge and involvement in regulatory and policy development, and our experience of delivering industry leading L&D designed to raise standards.
While we are keen to help our members embrace apprenticeships as a way to develop the collections workforce of the future at all levels of their businesses, we can also help employers outside of our membership/sector to use their Levy funds to upskill their credit control teams with delivery of the following standards, which we were involved in the development of and are one of the only specialist official registered training providers of:
A big part of what we do is to educate consumers and businesses about the professionalism of member businesses and the sector in general. Being an apprenticeship provider helps us to educate businesses outside of the membership, while at the same time enhance the reputation of the industry. This is a new venture for us as it is for many employers, but a lot of hard work has gone into ensuring that it will help our members and wider organisations to fill key skills gaps and meet all their commercial, regulatory, and social objectives when it comes to credit control, collections, and compliance. We now have our first cohorts of CSA Apprentices starting on programme across the UK and we have high hopes for them.
Non-levy paying employers
We also hope to soon be able to help non Levy-paying employers access Levy funds, which really is a not-to-missed opportunity and these employers should be thinking now about what key areas they want to focus on.
To find out how CSA apprenticeships and the Apprenticeship Levy can help your credit control team up its game visit our apprenticeship section.