The Apprenticeship Levy and Trailblazer Apprenticeships - information resource

20 June 2016

From April 2017 all companies in the UK with a gross payroll of over £3m pa will have to pay a levy to government of 0.5% of their gross payroll (less a threshold of £15,000)  This is the so-called "Apprenticeship Levy” and is designed to produce a pool of money which can be drawn down by companies running government-approved Apprenticeship Schemes through a special "Digital Bank Account”.

The only way to stop this levy simply being a dead tax on your company is to engage in setting up Trailblazer Apprenticeships and claim back the money – in fact you can in principle claim back more than you have paid if you run enough apprenticeship schemes.

These schemes need to be "government approved” and this ultimately means that they need to be of the new Trailblazer Apprenticeship type, as the older Framework Apprenticeships, that some of you may already be running, are being phased out quite quickly and will soon not qualify for funding.  

To set up and run a Trailblazer Apprenticeship you need to put yourself into a consortium of no less that ten other companies, including at least two SMEs and agree a “Standard" for your apprenticeship .  This is a two page document which captures the essence of the occupation at which your apprenticeship is aimed, and the core skills that the apprentice will be expected to acquire as part of their apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships can be pitched at various “levels", which relates to the academic work that the apprentice will be expected to undertake alongside his/her vocational training.  This ranges from level 2 (GCSEs) to Level 6 (undergraduate degree) and level 7 (MSc).

The final stage is to cost your apprenticeship and produce an Assessment Plan, explaining how your apprentice will be assessed by an independent body prior to passing out from his/her apprenticeship.  For most of the Trailblazers that we are currently writing for companies in Gambica’s sectors, this utilises the professional review teams at appropriate Professional Institutions, such as IET, and Inst MC.

An excellent Powerpoint presentation has been put together by the government to explain the rather complicated process more fully and you can download this by clicking the download button on the right hand side.

There are also some excellent guides on both the Levy and Trailblazers which can be found by clicking the following Links

And list of Trailblazer Apprenticeships currently under development can be found at;-

Gambica, through our connection with ESCO, the Industry Council for the wider Electronics Systems community in the UK, have retained professional Trailblazer authors who will help you form the consortia needed to write a Trailblazer  Standard and guide you through the application process.  This will be carried out at cost, meaning that most companies will pay only approx £1,000 to get their apprenticeship approved compared with more than 8 times this from some commercial providers (often former sector skills councils who have recently emerged.  You only have to pay this once per apprenticeship scheme through which you may put many apprentices.  Each apprentice is likely to give you access to around £28,000 of funding from the Levy so this should be viewed as extremely good value for money.

Gambica have already got one Level 6 apprenticeship approved, for the occupation of Embedded Systems Design Engineer (at Undergraduate level) and we are currently working on four more at different levels for the occupation of Process Control Engineer.  This group met for their first meeting on 14th June in London.