The Open University recently conducted research into the impact of the Apprenticeship Levy one year on from its launch. The results are quite startling in terms of the amount of money that has yet to be claimed and that companies are not using for creating staff apprenticeship training. Contact Centres have the perfect environment, needs and staffing to take advantage of this money. Well trained staff develop a passion for the business that cannot be underestimated.
The report states “The data reveals that more than 50,000 organisations across the UK have contributed to the apprenticeship levy since its introduction, at a total cost of £1.8 billion. But organisations in England, which are in control of how they use the funding via their National Apprenticeship Service accounts, have only withdrawn £108 million – just eight per cent of the £1.39 billion they have paid in. With such a huge amount of money committed to the apprenticeship levy, it’s essential that employers get a return on investment – and those who embrace apprenticeships will find they pay dividends. Of those who currently employ apprentices, 83 per cent rate their experience as good or excellent, with many mentioning positive attitudes, more ambition, higher engagement and increased loyalty.”
So how can Contact Centres take the lead?
Critically for large Contact Centres, any funding that remains in their National Apprenticeship Service Account after 24 months will expire and that money will be lost to them. The target date, therefore, is 6th April 2019 to get apprenticeship plans in place and providers working alongside your organisation. Contact Centre Managers should be knocking on the door of the Human Resources and Training Managers asking for a return on their levy payment and to solve issues of recruitment, staff retention, gaining staff with the right skills and developing staff with progression plans The levy should not be seen as a tax but as an investment in contact centre employees.
The positive impact of apprenticeship training in business is clear and proven
The Open University report supports the findings of Working Knowledge, an apprenticeship training and recruitment provider that has recently been helping levy paying contact centres and customer-facing organisations such as Enterprise Rent a Car.
Dr James Lott, Managing Director of Working Knowledge explains: “We wholeheartedly support the Open University’s findings. We have delivered bespoke training for contact centres since day one and we have seen the success it brings to employees of all ages and levels. For 92% of the levy to be sitting in a pot waiting to be claimed seems crazy when the cost of training would be cost neutral for organisations but the benefits on staff retention and quality are substantial. We are talking to many organisations with a considerable customer service focus and our advice to companies yet to consider their apprenticeship programme is to move swiftly to not lose the money already paid. We are happy to start these conversations tomorrow with contact centres managers, human resources leads and training departments.”
Managing apprenticeships – Think differently
At a time of uncertainty, and with everyone busy in management roles, the additional time required to set up an apprenticeship programme can be a significant drain on resource. But if you don’t think of the apprenticeships programme as a new task, but just a great way to enhance and deliver all the training and recruitment already needed then it can become a time saver rather than put in the ‘too difficult to do’ box.
Richard Branson has often said; “Train staff so they can leave, treat them well so they don’t want to”. Staff are looking to be invested in and training and advancement is a key reason to stay in a role and build a career.
Your first steps to starting a contact centre apprenticeship programme
- Align your apprenticeship training programme with your business goals
- Audit the skills of your employees – find the existing gaps and also where you need to recruit new skills
- Integrate apprenticeships as a method for your training going forward
- Contact Working Knowledge for an initial discussion on getting your apprenticeship programme set up, staff recruited and training funded
- Involve employees in your new shift to a continuous learning environment and get them excited about the benefits they are about to see.
- Get started today as money will expire.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss building your apprenticeship programme and recruiting new staff,