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NHS demands flexibility over how it spends apprenticeship levy

NHS employers would like to see more flexibility over how they can spend their levy fund, a report has revealed.

The report, ‘The apprenticeship levy study: NHS trusts,’ produced by BPP University, Health Education England, the Education Skills Funding Agency and Trendence UK, surveyed 175 trust on their apprenticeship levy strategies.

It found that over 90% of employers would like more flexibility around the spending of the fund.

Employers also expressed concerns around off-the-job training requirements, suggesting that this prevented them from expanding their apprenticeship programmes in all divisions of their organisations.

However, the findings of the report were generally positive, with 95% of the trusts surveyed planning to use their apprenticeship levy fund.

Over half of those asked said that they expected to use the majority of their levy funds for 2017-18, if not all, with a whopping 85% of trusts looking to offer nursing degree apprenticeships.

The survey found that trusts planned to spend most of their levy funds on existing employees rather than recruiting new employees into apprenticeship roles, and nine out of 10 employers said that they plan on using the levy to support workforce planning.

Professor Lynne Gell, director of nursing and healthcare education at BPP University, said that it is “gratifying” to see the health service embrace apprenticeships a year after the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy.

However, she said that it would be “foolish” to downplay the challenges faced by the NHS: “Trusts, in common with employers outside the NHS, have widespread concerns about the inflexibility of the levy in general and the 20% off-the-job requirement in particular,” she continued. 

“However, we should not over emphasise the pessimism. Whatever their frustrations, trusts see the potential of the Apprenticeship Levy and are determined to make the most of it.”

Top image: Sean Dempsey, PA Images


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