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News & blogs: Blogs

Blog: Are common myths holding back the success of the Apprenticeship Levy?

07 March 2018  
David Sheridan

David Sheridan is a Board Director at the Credit Services Association which is a Registered Apprenticeship Training Provider for specialist financial services sector standards.


Since the Apprenticeship Levy was introduced almost a year ago, employers are still confused about what it means for them. According to the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development,  22% are still unaware whether they have to pay the levy or not. And for those businesses that are aware and paying, they seem happy to put it down as an additional tax. Unfortunately, due to this, apprenticeship take up continues to be low.

So, what is it that is holding companies back? As a Registered Apprenticeship Training Provider and experienced trade body that has been delivering high quality learning and development initiatives for years, the CSA believe this may be down to some common apprenticeship myths.

Myth 1: Apprenticeships are just for young people/entry level staff

There is no upper age limit to an apprenticeship, and apprentices do not necessarily start at entry level in a business. We’ve heard employers asking where these new apprentices come from and how do we attract, recruit and retain them? The answer is that you don’t necessarily have to. Existing members of staff can start an apprenticeship no matter how long they’ve been with the business and what level they are at in their careers. For example, the CSA is currently running our Level 6 Senior Compliance Risk Specialist higher level apprenticeship for Insure the Box’s Compliance Monitoring Officer Stephen Southern. As a long-serving member of the compliance team, the company wanted to invest in Stephen to take his career to the next level – and benefit the business with new skills in this business-critical function.

The key to getting the greatest return on investment is to identify where the greatest need is in the business, not just in terms of skills but perhaps in areas of underperformance that need addressing for wider benefit, and then find an apprenticeship that meets that need. Credit control and compliance is a good place to start because it offers potential for cost savings when teams are performing at the best of their abilities. As another example, we are currently working with Brighton and Hove Council in this specific area.


Myth 2: Apprenticeships are generic/inflexible

Gone are the days when apprenticeships simply provided a basic introduction to a low-skilled profession. There are now hundreds of approved apprenticeship standards from Leadership & Management to Advanced Credit Controller/Debt Collection Specialist, both of which the CSA is approved to deliver.

While basic foundation skills can be built into an apprenticeship, it also includes the added benefit of an industry qualifications such as the Chartered Institute of Credit Management’s Diploma in Credit Management (which is built into our Level 3 Advanced Credit Controller apprenticeship standard) and the Institute of Risk Management’s International Certificate in Financial Services Risk Management (which is built into our Level 6 Compliance Risk Specialist apprenticeship standard).


Myth 3: Apprenticeships should be seen as completely separate from your wider Learning & Development Courses

Some employers are calling for the Apprenticeship Levy to be re-badged as a more flexible training levy but we think this misses the point of the levy from a social mobility and economic point of view. The levy is not an excuse for channelling current training investment into apprenticeships; it provides an opportunity to create something new and exciting for both the employer in terms of growing talent in the business, and the learner, to progress in their careers (irrespective of their age or previous experience).

However, apprenticeships also provide an opportunity for thinking creatively about your current learning and development needs and finding a way of recovering levy funds that are aligned with organisational and people development goals. For example, if you were already planning on putting team members through qualifications such as those mentioned above, building them into an apprenticeship is a way to access funding for them. Paying into the levy and not using it is one thing; but not using it and then spending additional money, time and resource on almost identical training makes little commercial sense.

Email to find out how we can build apprenticeships into your business.dit control team up its game visit our apprenticeship section.


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Credit Services Association,
2 Esh Plaza, Sir Bobby Robson Way,
Great Park, Newcastle upon Tyne,
NE13 9BA Map

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T: 0191 217 0775


Credit Services Association Limited 
Registered in England and Wales No. 00089614

CSA (Services) Ltd
Registered in England and Wales No. 05055685

Registered address:
2 Esh Plaza, Sir Bobby Robson Way, Great Park, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE13 9BA