03th November 2017


61% apprenticeship reduction - is your school losing out on the Levy?

Since the launch of the Levy, apprenticeship starts have dropped 61 percent compared to the same period as last year. The level of uncertainty around the Levy has contributed to the fall in numbers – education secretary Justine Greening expected the drop after the Levy was introduced.

In this guide, we’ll explore how the Levy has affected apprenticeship starts and what schools can do to make the Apprenticeship Levy work for them.

61 per cent decrease in apprenticeship starts

During a hearing of the House of Commons education select committee on Wednesday 25 October 2017, Justine Greening responded to the decreased apprenticeship starts:

“This is what we were expecting in the fact that we knew that when employers finally took over responsibility for actually spending the money themselves, they may well take some time to look at how they wanted to invest that money in apprenticeships.”

Greening also confirmed her commitment to social mobility, equality of opportunity and to improving technical education, saying: “young people in our country have never had a good enough choice of options post-16” and “technical education has never been at the level our young people deserve”.

“Our young people deserve a much higher quality technical education,” she said.

What the Levy means for schools

With the drop in apprenticeship starts, it seems the Apprenticeship Levy has left schools confused. As you’re probably aware - the legislation will confused about the levyaffect any organisation that has a payroll of more than £3 million. This means that many schools will be required to pay 0.5 per cent of their annual pay bill into the Levy fund (minus a £15,000 allowance).

For organisations like multi-academy trusts with several schools connected, the £15,000 allowance will have to be shared between all schools. While there is a degree of flexibility in terms of how this can be used, it puts linked organisations like these at a slight disadvantage when compared to stand-alone educational institutions. 

Schools and multi-academy trusts with 250 or more staff will also be required to take on new apprentices, or utilise new standards to upskill existing employees via apprenticeship-based training each year. Organisations within their scope will need to employ the equivalent of 2.3 per cent of their workforce as apprentices each year. 

Using your Levy funds 

If your school is paying into the Levy pot, you can use those funds, along with the 10 per cent top-up from the government, towards training and end point assessment costs for new apprentices or existing staff. 

Anyone can become an apprentice as long as they meet the following criteria: 

There are four main apprenticeships that may be most useful for schools, which are: 

To find out more about how you can use your funds, take a look at our guide here

Off-the-job training 

Another element of the apprenticeship reforms that has caused confusion for schools and other organisations is the 20 per cent off-the-job apprenticeship levy for schoolstraining requirement. 

The government define off-the-job training as: 

“Learning which is undertaken outside of the normal day-today working environment and leads towards the achievement of the Apprenticeship. This can include training that is delivered at the apprentice’s normal place of work but must not be delivered as part of their normal working duties.” 

This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are in structured off-site training 20% of the time. Examples of the sort of activities that qualify as off-the-job training are: 

 It must count towards 20 per cent of the apprentice’s contracted employment hours throughout their apprenticeship. To work out how much 20 per cent is for your apprentices, you can use the following formula: 

Hours per day worked x days per week worked x weeks a year worked x the length of the apprenticeship 

Then work out 20 per cent of this figure to find out the requirement for off-the-job training. The training must be relevant to the apprenticeship standard that the apprentice is undertaking and it can be done outside office hours as long as they’re compensated with time off in lieu. off-the-job training with levy

Find out more about 20 per cent off-the-job in our guide here

If you want to see how your school is using the Levy, local authority schools can contact their council’s HR department and multi-academy trusts can contact their own HR department. 


While many issues around the Apprenticeship Levy has impacted on apprenticeship starts nationally, we hope we’ve shed some light around what the Levy means for schools. 

But if you have any questions or are looking for hands-on support with any aspect of off-the-job training, or using your funds – we can provide a free Levy management service for your school - don’t hesitate to get in touch with our expert team today:

Talk to our team