Apprenticeship levy

Hi all

I have just participated in a webinar held by DiVA (the training provider we use for our SftF apprentices) about the Apprenticeship levy being introduced by the government in 2017.

For those who have not come across the details yet the plan is that all employers with a payroll of more than £3m will pay a 0.5% levy that will be invested into the apprentices. This levy will mean all employers of apprentices (regardless of whether they pay the levy or not) will be entitled to claim £15,000 to offset training costs.

A number of other changes are also likely to come in (although the details are still being firmed up by the government) including the following:

- the QCF is likely to change so that apprentices achieve an organisational/industry 'standard' rather than a qualification

- organisations will be encouraged to do more training and assessment in-house

- level 2 qualifications could be replaced by pre-apprenticeship traineeships with additional funding being available to support learners with English/Maths

The presentation from the webinar can be found here and the government information and draft legislation here. Another webinar will be held around the time of the budget - I will share a link here.


The positive/negative impact of this levy will no doubt be felt in museums/galleries and heritage organisations of all sizes across the country. Despite the possible financial incentive for smaller organisations to benefit from employing apprentices these changes raise a number of questions and concerns for both employers and apprentices:

1. What is the potential impact on uptake of apprenticeships in smaller/less well known organisations if there is no associated/accredited qualification?

2. What support/training will there be for organisations to deliver high quality programmes?

3. If more assessment is in-house how will organisations be monitored for quality control in the delivery of apprenticeships? And in the long run, how would those delivering best practice remain unaffected by the potential bad reputation?

4. What is the potential impact on diversity if employers decide to convert current entry level roles to apprenticeships - and still look to recruit graduates/postgraduates?

5. How does it effect those paying bursaries?

I'm sure more information will be provided over the coming months with the new budget etc but I wondered how those participating in funded programmes will be affected by this. 

Will HLF be offering some information about the changes coming in and how this might impact organisations managing/participating in Skills for the Future programmes or have other funded projects that involve apprentices? 

Does this provide an opportunity for the development of best practice guidance for delivering heritage sector apprenticeships under the new system?

I appreciate there may not be any firm answers at this stage, and that this will be an ongoing discussion over the coming months (with more changes no doubt following the budget in the spring).

However, I would be interested in hearing other people’s views on the details of the levy, if you share my concerns and how you think it might potentially impact your organisation and programmes.

With best wishes


Submitted by JoR (not verified) on Mon, 02/15/2016 - 11:24


Hello Alice,

Thanks for sharing this information. In recent weeks, we in the HLF policy team have been briefing internal colleagues and talking to some external stakeholders. We responded to the Government’s consultation on the Levy in summer 2015.

With the Levy, the UK Government hopes to create 3 million new apprenticeships; how the policy relates to Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland is still being worked out.

Clearly, it would be positive if some of these apprenticeships are created in the heritage sector not least because heritage sector employers will be charged the Levy. It’s important to add to your note that because all employers will receive an allowance of £15,000 to offset the levy payment (towards training costs not salaries), only employers with a payroll of £3 million and above will pay the Levy. Certainly, this will impact on DCMS arms-length bodies and the larger organisations in the cultural and heritage sectors.

As you say, alongside the introduction to the Apprenticeship Levy the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is also leading a new approach to developing Apprenticeship Standards in England through the Trailblazer programme – i.e. the qualifications that underpin an apprenticeship, and how these are assessed.

We first talked about Trailblazers in the online community here:

Trailblazers are employer-developed apprenticeship standards and assessment criteria that govern how apprenticeships work, and ultimately determine how much training money is allocated to each standard. Trailblazers are replacing apprenticeship ‘frameworks’ which have to date been the underpinning system for apprenticeships and which have, historically been made up of qualifications and knowledge components.

Trailblazer standards can be created by groups of 10 employers or more who are willing to work together to develop standards and assessment criteria at their own cost.

Historic England is working on a Trailblazer for skills required in the historic environment sector, including archaeology.

Creative and Cultural Skills, a charity and National Training College, is currently supporting four new apprenticeship standards – craft practitioner and venue operations will be most relevant to heritage organisations.

We are talking to Lantra and others for information on what is planned in the natural heritage sector.

We presume standards relating to the generic skills needed by heritage organisations - such as business administration, finance and HR, for example – will be available through providers not directly related to the heritage sector.

It may be time for one or more round tables to explore these issues further; I’ll post here if there are any developments. I don’t see any immediate need for HLF to take action in relation to Skills for the Future projects currently in delivery.


Submitted by NRandell (not verified) on Thu, 04/28/2016 - 17:24


I have written a blog piece highlighting the proposed changes to apprenticeships and the impact of the Apprenticeship levy which can be read here:

The government have now placed a series of documents relating to apprenticeship reform, including guidance for employers carrying out the new changes (trailblazers) on this webpage:



Submitted by JoR (not verified) on Fri, 04/29/2016 - 11:09


In Nick's blog he talks about the work Historic England and Creative and Cultural Skills to lead heritage-relevant Trailblazers.  I note this week that the Natural Stone Industry Training Group have brought employers together to discuss the possibility of forming a Trailblazing Group, which is positive news:

If you know of other work in progress do share it with readers here. The heritage sector will only be in a postion to draw down training funds generated by the Apprenticeship Levy if we have new apprenticeship standards in place.