Sales apprenticeships offer great business benefits despite admin challenges
The Institute of Sales Professionals (ISP) is encouraging employers to take on apprentices despite new research that more than half a billion pounds of apprenticeship funding was not used last year because businesses found the government scheme rigid and unsuitable.
Today’s research by the Co-op - reported in The Times newspaper - reveals that despite rising demand for apprenticeships, more than £600 million was taken back by the government last year alone because it had not been spent. The Co-op says the money raised from employers through the apprenticeship levy could have funded over 60,000 apprenticeships.
The government levy was introduced in April 2017 and employers with an annual wage bill of more than £3 million have to pay 0.5 per cent of their payroll costs to the Treasury to fund apprenticeship training.
Patrick Joiner, managing director of the ISP, whilst pressing the government to make its rules simpler to administer, is also encouraging employers to look carefully at the value of apprenticeships as a robust and effective way of training and educating employees.
He said: “Please don’t rule out apprenticeships because they appear too difficult to manage. Many organisations we work with have benefitted massively from hiring apprentices. The Level 4 Sales apprenticeship has registered nearly 2000 learners over the last five years and continues to grow fast.
“We acknowledge there are administrative challenges, but we work with a large number of approved training organisations who have a great deal of experience in supporting employers through the process. We also have partnerships with employers who are approved centres in their own right and run the whole training process in-house.
“With the high level of staff turnover in business-to-business selling, the Level 4 apprenticeship, which takes 18 months to complete, is a valuable way of retaining team members, offering them outstanding professional development and benefiting from the revenue they bring in whilst while they’re studying to become qualified, skilled and motivated sales professionals - a highly-prized commodity indeed!”
The ISP believes there is a strong argument for widening the scope of learning opportunities that the apprenticeship levy can support, and as an Ofqual-regulated awarding body, the Institute would welcome that opportunity.
Patrick said: “For many employers and their employees sales apprenticeships, currently available from level 3 to level 6, are a valuable part of the mix when it comes to developing sales talent. The system needs to be fit for purpose and we will always help employers to set up the best training possible so they can attract top quality apprentices who will be the sales leaders of tomorrow.”