The Apprenticeship Levy: A UK business opportunity

The Apprenticeship Levy has the opportunity to positively affect all areas of business including cyber security, says Stefano Capaldo.

Few businesses would turn down the chance to hire or upskill employees at a fraction of the current cost. In fact, this opportunity is available from as early as this month thanks to new legislation. From 6 April 2017 the funding of apprenticeships will be revolutionised as the government introduces the Apprenticeship Levy.

Government is set to contribute 90% of the cost of an apprentice for your business, including training and recruitment costs. This means firms can overhaul how they recruit and train staff to make your business more competitive. But where do you start? Here are a few pointers. 


Apprenticeships bring benefits for businesses and employees by combining working, learning and earning. Data from the National Apprenticeship Service reveals that apprenticeships boost productivity to businesses by on average £214 per week. Yet, apprenticeships aren’t just for new staff.

Businesses have already found that apprenticeships enable businesses to grow their skills base resulting in increased profits, lower prices and better products

The new levy means that now UK-based employers with a salary bill of over £3m must invest 0.5% of this figure in hiring apprentices or developing existing staff. This cash is transferred to an apprenticeships service account, but if it’s not used it will be permanently lost. This is a huge opportunity employers should not waste.

The levy provides a huge opportunity for businesses to boost their cyber security workforce with little to no cost for the employers themselves.

Yet, according to recent City and Guilds Group research, a third of employers liable to pay the new Apprenticeship Levy aren’t even aware of its existence. Are you at risk of losing out on investing this money? Or are you one of the smaller businesses that will now find apprenticeships more affordable? For companies of all sizes how you make the most of this opportunity is vital.


Apprenticeships are a great way for businesses to ensure they are training employees in the skills required for your specific company. This is why apprenticeship participation has reached a record high. With training schemes becoming more affordable with the levy introduction, the popularity of apprentices will only increase.

After all, the National Apprenticeship Service data shows nine out of ten employers find apprenticeships deliver for them, whilst 75% report that apprenticeships helped their business improve the quality of their product or service. But, where should you focus your levy spend?

Forward-thinking companies are using the Levy to plug gaps in their current business needs. For example, a total of 94% of firms believe IT security is important, but only 56% have a strategy in place to deal with it, according to a study hot off the press from the Institute of Directors and Barclays.

The levy provides a huge opportunity for businesses to boost their cyber security workforce with little to no cost for the employers themselves.

Why cyber security? 

Cyber security is a real and current threat to businesses in all sectors and of all sizes. Companies rely more and more on online and digital skills to maintain everyday business. Yet, the importance of cyber security has been lost on general industry for many years. Now it’s all about playing catch up.

Yet, there aren’t enough people that understand cyber threats and are trained in how to both protect companies from them and respond to attacks. This is not just a UK problem. There will be an estimated worldwide shortage of 1.5m cyber security professionals by 2020.

If there aren’t enough experts to recruit, the levy can help your business to build its own. By using the levy for this UK firms can leverage apprenticeships to overhaul how they recruit and train their existing teams to become IT security professionals.

For businesses, apprenticeship training ensures their level of preparedness in case of a cyber-attack is increased, with the right staff sharing the right skills – whatever your sector or workforce size. With the launch of the levy, huge business opportunities exist. Now all you have to decide is – how will you accelerate your apprenticeship journey?


About the author

Stefano Capaldo is managing director of Firebrand Apprenticeships.


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