Public Sector Focus


Understanding the apprenticeship levy

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YPO has launched the first national apprenticeship framework this month, allowing the UK public sector to access apprenticeship training across all standards from a range of local and national suppliers. Lizzy Grayson, category manager of corporate services at YPO, urges public organisations to act now to benefit from the scheme, and reveals how YPO’s new national framework can help.  

The apprenticeship levy is intended to increase funding and boost the volume of apprenticeships available within the UK, both in the public and private sectors. Since its introduction in 2017 it has been accumulating funds for the investment in apprenticeships within UK organisations who spend over £3m on payroll each year. This payroll bracket includes many public sector organisations, such as local authorities, who employ a large workforce across multiple departments. The levy stands at 0.5% of every employee’s wage for these organisations and so, as a result, significant sums of have been accrued to invest in both new staff and their existing workforce.

But the clock is ticking. Public sector organisations have two years to spend the funding that they have contributed into their apprenticeship levy pot; as of April 2019, organisations will start to lose money they haven’t spent on new apprentices or training existing staff. In the public sector, however, one of the biggest barriers preventing organisations from making use of the apprenticeship levy funding is time and compliance.

YPO recognises that procuring apprenticeships can quickly become confusing, as well as being a burden on resources for public sector organisations as they attempt to choose the best procurement framework for their organisation. Subsequently, YPO’s national apprenticeship framework, launched this month, covers all standards, and collates compliant routes to apprenticeship providers across the UK.

Apprenticeship providers will also be able to bid on a quarterly basis for all current and new standards thanks to the structure of the apprenticeship procurement framework. There are over 250 different standards across routes such as emergency services and social care, and this number is rapidly rising to include more apprenticeship roles as trailblazing bodies approve new sector standards.

There are also more than 2,600 providers approved on the Education and Skills Funding register of approved apprenticeship providers listing. The YPO framework will support apprenticeship providers by giving them access to one procurement process that will allow public sector organisations to procure their apprenticeship standards directly.

YPO’s new national apprenticeship framework will also make spending apprenticeship levy funds simpler for public sector organisations, offering a central, compliant route to market for procurement.

Indeed, creating a national framework that covers all standards is vital to help public sector organisations find the most appropriate provider. The market is rapidly growing, so access to national and regional providers will be key to delivering a successful apprenticeship partnership programme. The ongoing challenge will be to ensure that value for money, as well as quality, is achieved. Our role is also to help public sector organisations navigate the scheme effectively to realise their apprenticeship training goals.

Indeed, we are supporting organisations across the public sector in different ways as they manage their commitment to apprenticeships and understand the ways that the apprenticeship levy can support the way they support the development of their staff.

The YPO apprenticeship framework will also support organisations as they seek to understand the most valuable way to develop their programme. In the run-up to 2020 frameworks are being replaced with standards which are much more person-centred and provide a less quantitative approach to managing apprenticeships as they are employer-led. By its nature, for organisational staff who are developing apprenticeship programmes alongside existing roles, the new standards approach has required some additional thinking and understanding of the resource involved in the apprenticeship levy implementation.

It has taken time for many organisations to understand not only the benefit of the apprenticeship levy, but also to consider the best way in which to implement it in the most effective way for their organisation. The number of uptakes to date has been variable. Following the launch of the YPO apprenticeship framework, we expect to see an increase in apprenticeships across the public sector as organisations gain confidence in the scheme and recognise the need to act.

With many years of experience, YPO is one of the leading UK public sector procurement organisations. It is publically owned, which means profits are returned to public sector customers, thus helping give assurance that maximum savings can be made. YPO is committed to helping the public sector engage with the apprenticeship levy in a positive way.

To learn more about YPO’s apprenticeship framework and YPO’s wider framework portfolio visit,


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