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National Apprenticeship Week: Why SMEs should embrace becoming Apprenticeship Levy payers

04 March 2019  
Fiona Macaskill

Fiona Macaskill is Head of Learning & Development at the Credit Services Association. She has been shortlisted for a Women in Credit Award for leading the ‘Transformation of the Year’ for leading the CSA into becoming a Main Provider on the Government’s Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP). Fiona has also been instrumental in developing new apprenticeship standards in financial services and regulatory compliance to specifically address the needs of the practice of debt collection to the highest professional standards.

Almost two years on from the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, we are taking the opportunity to reflect on our experiences as a RoATP Provider so far and looking forward to what the future holds. Behind all the headlines about the mixed response to and success of the Apprenticeship Levy are some real success stories that are now coming to fruition.

We now have our first cohorts of apprenticeships coming towards their End Point Assessment and we’re delighted with the progress our learners have made and the commitment their employers have shown, with some coming back to start new programmes already.

Over the past two years we’ve worked with the likes of the Bank of England and built strong partnerships with Professional Bodies like the Chartered Institute of Credit Management, the International Compliance Association and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, to enable us to deliver collections, compliance and risk apprenticeships to the wider financial services sector and compliance and regulatory sector.

A key development in the last 12 months has been the introduction of the Level 4 Regulatory Compliance Officer apprenticeship standard, which has seen us working with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to support their progress as they recruit for brand new roles in regulatory compliance, as well as a large number of Local Authorities and other organisations within and outside of the debt collection sector.

But beyond the big names and public sector organisations we’re now particularly excited to see many SMEs within our sector and similar sectors starting to embrace apprenticeships as a key part of their business growth. Those who have found themselves suddenly hitting £3m on their payroll and therefore qualifying as an Apprenticeship Levy payer are leveraging it to bring in additional funding to strategically invest in people development. Where some much larger organisations saw the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy as another tax, these innovative SMEs (which include our member companies such as BW legal, Lantern, Philips & Cohen) are seeing it as a business opportunity. However, we would urge SMEs who aren’t currently Levy payers to keep an eye on their payroll as they grow and encourage them to prepare and hopefully make the most of Levy funds as soon as they do qualify to start paying into it.

For SMEs who don’t know where to start, we can help, drawing on our experience of working with bigger Levy payers to maximise their investment in key areas such as credit control (see this blog about why employers should use the Apprenticeship Levy to upskill credit control teams) and compliance. We can also advise on how investment in apprenticeships through the Levy fits into your wider Learning & Development strategy as an established provider of specialist training at all levels.

We run apprenticeship programmes from entry level (eg Level 2 Credit Control) through to senior management (eg Level 6 Compliance Risk) across the country and can tailor packages to suit the needs of your business (find out more here). Ultimately, we want to achieve our aim of raising standards and increasing the professionalism of the debt collection profession both within our membership and in wider sectors and the long-term business benefits for SMEs are huge if Levy funds are used effectively.

While some remain sceptical about the role of the Apprenticeship Levy, we have seen first-hand the positive impact it can have on organisations who invest in the right areas with the right training providers and we’re excited to see this develop further over the next year as more and more SMEs grow and become Levy payers.

 

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Credit Services Association Limited 
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CSA (Services) Ltd
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Registered address:
2 Esh Plaza, Sir Bobby Robson Way, Great Park, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE13 9BA