Supporting employers

Rolling out and delivering an effective apprenticeship programme is not a small undertaking. Key steps and measures are needed to ensure compliance with regulations, quality of delivery, and alignment with business objectives.

With what seems to be a growing skills shortage in many industries, apprenticeships are increasingly viewed as a sustainable investment in a more loyal workforce.

Regardless of where you are on your apprenticeships journey, following these six steps will help you achieve apprenticeships success.  

Step one: you see value in apprenticeships but haven’t launched a programme       Step one: we see value in apprenticeships but haven't launched a programme

Having apprenticeships is not a new consideration for businesses. But, what we can see is that the benefits of an apprenticeship scheme are more established than ever before. The Education Employer Skills Survey 2019 Research Report noted that of the respondents: 

  • 86 per cent said apprenticeships helped them develop skills relevant to their organisation.
  • 78 per cent confirmed apprenticeships improved productivity.
  • 89 per cent stated that the apprentices who completed the apprenticeship stayed within the business
  • 52 per cent of apprenticeships starting in the period 2019/20 were already employees of the business where apprenticeships help further develop their skills. 

The figures are difficult to argue with. By investing in the skills and development of employees and future leaders, organisations see positive returns. 

Setting up the infrastructure to roll out an effective apprenticeship does need some thinking about though. Considerations should include: 

  • the principles of an apprenticeship scheme;
  • apprenticeships standards – and the commitment they demand; 
  • rules and regulations;
  • apprenticeship levy; 
  • training requirements; and 
  • funding arrangements. 

In a recent study, The Open University found that 56 per cent of UK organisations continue to experience skills shortages and that 61 per cent of organisations say that they are not as agile as they need to be because of shortfalls in their skills (The Open University Business Barometer, September 2020 ). Apprenticeships are a natural solution to these skills gaps. 

For more information on how you can start to think about apprenticeships and align them with your organisation’s objectives, speak to James Whybrow or Mike Cheetham

Step two: you’ve bought into the idea of an apprenticeship but need a strategy       Step two: we've bought into the idea of an apprenticeship but need a strategy

Your apprenticeship strategy should be based around a tailored action plan and key milestones for implementation. To put an effective action plan in place, it’s important to ask: 

  • Have we identified all of the key individuals within the organisation that need to be involved? 
  • Have we reviewed any existing apprenticeships or similar initiatives, and have they been effective and successful?
  • Do the available apprenticeships standards match employee skills or demand?
  • How can we establish the most effective way to maximise apprenticeship funding to deliver business impact? 
  • What could the induction and welcome programme look like for apprentices?
  • How should we identify and select providers? 
  • How will we measure and evaluate the impact of apprenticeship training?
  • How could apprenticeships be used to support supply chain and wider corporate social responsibility?  

For more information please contact James Whybrow or Mike Cheetham

Step three: You have a digital account but have queries / need to troubleshoot issues       Step three: we have a digital account but have queries or need to troubleshoot issues

The digital apprenticeship service was introduced to make things easier, but there will inevitably be questions and issues that need resolving. The service was designed to: 

  • allow employers to access funding and key information relating to the apprenticeship details they need;
  • draw attention to new apprenticeships standards;
  • allow employers to find the right apprenticeship for them; and 
  • encourage diversity and social mobility. 

If you would like to join our community to engage with like-minded digital experts, raise questions or support colleagues, please email James Whybrow.  

Step four: You need to appoint training providers who deliver quality and value       Step four: we need to appoint training providers who deliver quality and value

Appointing the right training provider is crucial to running an effective apprenticeship programme. It will determine, in large part, the quality of training provided and in some cases engagement from the apprentice. 

To do this, organisations must: 

  • establish a robust framework for procuring services;
  • establish buying conditions and evaluation criteria, such as quality parameters, price, capacity and value for money;
  • conduct adequate due diligence on prospective providers;
  • identify key areas of employer delivery in apprenticeship training; and
  • remain aligned to financial regulations.

The Open University in their recent Business Barometer Report state that 49 per cent of employers intend to recruit more junior employees and train them to fill any skills gaps. 

For guidance on any of the above, contact James Whybrow or Mike Cheetham

Step five: You need / want to continuously monitor performance to keep apprenticeships in line with objectives       Step five: we need to continuously monitor performance to keep apprenticeships in line with objectives

An unmonitored apprenticeship programme has the potential to become unwieldy, ineffective and unaligned with business objectives. 

Only 61 per cent of apprenticeships are completed on time. RSM research completed with employers in August 2020 identified that “86 per cent do not have a set of performance indicators to assess the performance of the training provider in place.”

A monitoring framework is therefore essential to ensure high quality. To achieve this, organisations must: 

  • establish key objectives for the apprenticeship strategy;
  • define the apprenticeship ‘journey’ and have data on performance readily available;
  • identify key performance indicators so that the success of the programme is easily assessed;
  • support and enable reporting, including defining frequency and any necessary templates;
  • support implementation, launch and a performance action plan, and 
  • establish monitoring and performance management meetings with providers. 

Real value from apprenticeships comes from mutual benefit between the organisation and the apprentice. This can only be assured if the organisation and the apprentice knows what they are working towards, and can demonstrate that value. 

For guidance on any of the above, contact James Whybrow or Mike Cheetham

Step six: You want to distribute levy funds       Step six: we want to distribute levy funds

The apprenticeship levy was introduced as a source of funds to help employers deliver new apprenticeships. If organisations cannot use some or all of their levy, they can transfer unused levy funds to employers in the supply chain, or other related supporting organisations, up to the maximum of 25 per cent of funds entering the account.

In order to do this, they will need to: 

  • establish the funding that is available to distribute;
  • decide and provide scheme criteria;
  • agree a process for evaluating and distributing funding requests; and 
  • review the impact of apprenticeships within their network. 

We regularly guide clients through every step of this journey, and we can help you too. For more information on levy funds distribution or any of the steps described above, please contact

Mike Cheetham Mike Cheetham


James Whybrow James Whybrow

Associate Director

Stephanie Mason Stephanie Mason