Why the apprenticeship levy could be the solution to the export skills shortage

Wed 11 Jul 2018
Posted by: William Barns-Graham

The apprenticeship levy was introduced by the government, coming into effect in April last year, in order to help fulfil its promise of 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020. Many have found the process of drawing on the levy bureaucratic and inflexible, with some calling it a tax on business which doesn’t deliver the skilled apprenticeships it needs, or at least not the apprentices with relevant skills for their needs. 

With a 60 per cent plunge in the number of people starting apprenticeships in the first quarter after the levy’s introduction, it hardly got off to an ideal start. Data obtained by the Open University found that of the £1.39bn paid into the levy during its first year, only £108 million has been drawn down.

Yet with Brexit coming up and businesses likely to be facing customs compliance requirements to sell into the EU which they haven’t faced before, there is a definite opportunity for businesses to hire apprentices who are training in the export skills that many they simply do not have right now, during a period in which these skills will matter more than ever. 

How the Institute is helping companies fill the trade skills gap through apprenticeships

The Institute of Export & International Trade are seeking to help companies draw on the levy with a suite of qualifications for apprentices to gain the skills of international trade. Director of Education and Special Projects at the Institute, Kevin Shakespeare, gives the following update:

“Over the last few months the Institute of Export and International Trade have been active in developing qualifications which allow employers to access apprenticeship funding.

“Following these initiatives, the Institute have qualification options at different educational levels covering international trade, supply chain and logistics.

“These qualifications allow employers to access apprenticeship funding. For employers with an annual pay bill over £3million you will be able to offset your apprenticeship levy payments.

"Employers with a pay bill below £3million will also benefit in that you will receive 90% funding towards the cost of the qualification.”        

Qualifications accessible through the levy

Through the levy businesses can access the following courses:

  • Bachelor’s Degree (Highest Level) under the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship - for employees with over 5 years business experience. Next learning cohort commencing in September. Eligible learners may also receive exemptions from some modules based on work experience and prior education qualifications.
  • Foundation Degree and Bachelor’s Degree - for those with less than five years’ business experience. Next learning cohort commencing in September.

We are also seeking to deliver further qualifications including part or all of the Freight Forwarding Specialist qualification at Level 3, and the team leader apprenticeship standard at Level 3.

We are also working with the University of Warwick on a Master’s Degree option at Level 7 and can provide more information about this upon request.

What you get

Apprentices studying with the Institute of Export & International Trade will receive access to an online learning campus with extensive written learning materials, presentations, virtual lectures, and podcasts. There is a tutor to support the learner, an online learning library and regular learning webinars. 

To find out more on Apprenticeships in International Trade please telephone the Institute on 01733 404400 or email kevin.shakespeare@export.org.uk

Where can I get more information?

Find out about the levy

Changes to the apprenticeship funding system

Apprenticeship standards

Find apprenticeship training