Mercuri International (UK) Ltd

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Levy Funded Development - Have you recognised the opportunity?

PUBLISHED: 07/03/2019

Upskilling for our future – The Apprenticeship Levy

What is the biggest lie in life? How about – ‘People like change!’.It’s a cliché popular with management particularly when a workforce is required to do something it’s not happy about.  Why are people resistant to change? Change requires thought. It draws more energy than normal. It creates disturbance and can make some feel inadequate. Change nurtures vulnerability, uncertainty and fear. Resistance is magnified by lack of understanding. On the flip side, change frequently provides opportunity, signifies progress, encourages development and improves output. People are often happier after change has occurred.

British industry’s collective reaction to the Apprenticeship Levy has been fuelled by sporadic and ad-hoc communication about the levy, defensive behaviour from existing providers and a pinch of short-term thinking by some employers.

As our national capacity to invent, make and own things seems to daily diminish, there is a real possibility that longer term, the UK will become no more than a low skill, service delivery mega-centre off the north west coast of Europe. How many have grasped the potential magnitude of the opportunity for UK PLC’s presented by the Levy?

Before summarizing the opportunity, let’s consider the counter argumentation, much of which is built not on ideological objection, but on simple lack of understanding.

Why use the Apprenticeship levy?

The opportunity to acquire accreditation in roles previously deemed too intangible to quantify is a compelling case for commitment. As an example; Sales is largely ignored by career advisors and academia mainly because the profession is poorly understood by both. Young adults reliably informed of employment pathways to financial security, career progression and entrepreneurial opportunity will be very interested. Building a qualification around core business and life skills which have already created companies, jobs and wealth is vital to national economic health. Investment in human capital ticks a very important box for Millennials whose value set differs markedly from that of their parents.

It’s too bureaucratic and inflexible

For whom? Process is necessary to ensure learners reach the end-point. To generate commitment and drive learner achievement, rigour must be applied.  The use of public money necessitates the elimination of any possibility of misappropriation. Quality must be assured and this demands attentiveness. Regarding flexibility; process need not however equate to rigidity. The Level 4 Sales Apprenticeship can be tailored specifically as the need arises, even though most core competencies in Sales are common across roles and industry sectors.  Training providers now need a greater degree of agility than ever before to support the needs of the employer.

The opportunity cost

Businesses are often prone to short-termism and evidence of that is easy to find. Many companies worry about lost productivity costs and in particular - lost sales. It seems few are considering the multiplicative power of a more able and stable sales team which can improve conversion rates, lower the cost of sale, increase turnover and grow the customer base. Equipping the next generation of sales professionals requires investment from individual and employer alike, otherwise the old cycle in which only the strongest survive is perpetuated.

Where now?

Change is inevitable. The learning marketplace in the UK has undergone a significant alteration. Budget holders across the country are considering whether training provisioned through hard-fought internal negotiation can now be funded through the Levy. This means either; more human capital development can be accessed or, the money can be diverted elsewhere in the business. 

Providers with specialist expertise are enabling themselves to be the partner of choice in a market segment previously roped off and inaccessible. Employers frustrated by the low-quality people development delivered by some providers in the past now have exciting alternative choices.

Return on investment now reigns supreme.  Business owners, who have now been forced to part with their hard-earned money to spend on Apprentices are, rightfully so, wanting to know that the result of their financial investment will yield increased returns in productivity, revenue and staff retention as an absolute minimum.

Apprenticeships Training Providers now, more than ever need to be responsive to meet the individual needs of employer and learner simultaneously whilst assuring an underpinning theme of quality along the entire journey.

The UK has a real chance to catch up and even overtake some of our fiercest economic competitors by investing in a skills-focused future beyond the EU.  Collectively, we need to grasp the opportunity with both hands. In times of change, the adaptable prevail.

About Mercuri International

With a commitment to delivering innovative training solutions and over 60 years’ experience helping companies worldwide transform their business results, we develop and implement training to help your people become tomorrow’s leaders, managers and sales professionals utilizing a blended learning approach: classroom, digital eLearning, one to one sessions, webinars and tutorials.

Reference & Further information

  • (Dunn, Apprenticeship Levy Pricing Young People Out Of Training, 2018) -

  • The Association of Professional Sales:

  • Institute for Apprenticeships:

  • Apprenticeships for England:



Sarah James | Tel: 0330 9000 8000 |

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