With the launch of the Apprenticeship Levy drawing ever-closer, employers are now moving beyond the admin and are starting to get to grips with the practicalities of how best to recoup their funds via training. 

In this guide, we’ll explore how to find an Apprenticeship Levy training provider, how to deal with multiple providers and how to direct your funds to them via your Apprenticeship Service Account (ASA). 

Finding an approved training Apprenticeship Levy provider Finding an approved Apprenticeship Levy provider

The Digital Apprenticeship Service rollout will be proceeding in February 2017, giving employers access to their accounts, find approved providers and direct payments to them. 

Following a three-month private beta test featuring more than 100 employers, its creators are confident that the move will be of immense benefit to Levy-paying organisations, with ASA service manager Gary Tucker stating: 

“The apprenticeship service facilitates self-serve and employer ownership. It shifts power from a provider-driven apprenticeship system to an employer-led service, so employers' skills needs can really be met. 

One key feature of the ASA is its incorporation of the new register of apprenticeship training providers. This new system is part of the government’s commitment to focus more on the needs of employers and to be featured on the register, providers must prove both quality of training and employer engagement. 

Providers can join the register in three ways, depending on what it is they’re delivering and who they’re aiming to deliver it to. These routes are: 

Main: Providers that are accepted into the register via this route are eligible for selection by Levy-paying employers to deliver all kinds of apprenticeship training, or can be chosen by another main-route provider to act as a subcontractor. 

Supporting: This path is suitable for providers who specialise in a given area of training and who only seek to deliver apprenticeships in a subcontractor role. 

Employer-provider: As the name suggests, this option is for employers who want to act as their own training provider. This enables them to lead their own training initiatives or act as a subcontractor for their main provider. 

The first wave of approved providers submitted their applications in November 2016 and the register will open four times each year for new applications. To keep the government abreast of changes within these organisations, all providers are required to reapply at least once every 12 months. 

Dealing with multiple Apprenticeship Levy providersApprenticeship Levy - dealing with multiple providers 

Given the breadth of apprenticeship training on offer, very few providers will be able to deliver each of the 500-plus standards on their own. Similarly, all apprenticeship standards now require end point assessment, which can’t be carried out by the organisation that provided the training. As such, dealing with multiple providers will be a necessity for many employers, but there’s thankfully some flexibility in how this is carried out. 

Organisations can opt to deal with different ‘main’ providers one-on-one, but from our interactions with employers, by far the most popular option seems to be using a single provider to manage all apprenticeship training and allowing them to subcontract provision as needed. 

Directing Apprenticeship Levy funding to a provider 

As covered in our guide to new apprenticeship standards, all new standards (as well as existing ones that are in the process of being replaced) will be split into 15 funding bands, each with an upper limit, ranging from £1,500 to £27,000. 

These bands don’t have a lower limit, however, and employers and providers are expected to thrash out a deal among themselves. 

Once a price has been agreed and a contract signed, you’ll be able to direct the funds present in your AAS account to the provider(s) of your choice. After the training gets underway, payments will automatically be removed from your account and forwarded to the provider. 

Non-levy payers, and Levy-paying employers for whom the costs of training run beyond what they’ve got available in their ASA account, can take advantage of co-investment, where the government pays 90% towards the training and assessment cost. These payments won’t come out of your ASA account, however, and are made directly to the training provider(s). 

What you can spend your Apprenticeship Levy funds on 

Levy funds can only be spent on the costs of training and end point assessment from approved training providers and assessors for apprentices undertaking an apprentice under the new Trailblazer standards, or one of the existing SASE frameworks that’s yet to be replaced. 

Your Levy pot can’t be used to pay for: What can you spend Apprenticeship Levy funds on

  • Travel
  • Licenses they need to work
  • Managerial costs
  • Traineeships
  • Work placement programmes
  • Setup costs for apprentice training programmes 

If you’re set up as an employer-provider, you can use your ASA account to direct payments to yourself, as well as any subcontracting providers and end point assessment organisations. 

Your thoughts 

While we’ve hopefully shed some light on how to select and pay a training provider, if you’ve got any queries or comments, be sure to let us know via Twitter or LinkedIn

And if you’re looking for a one-stop-shop provider to project manage your Levy training programme, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team of Levy experts or read our free Apprenticeship Levy guide:

Download ebook →