All UK companies with an annual wages bill of £3m or over have to pay the apprenticeship levy, which was introduced just under a year ago. That means that many are looking hard at apprenticeships for the first time. Some, however, have systems that are already well-entrenched.
Lloyds Banking Group started with a small pilot in 2012, according to Kathryn Marshall, who is responsible for the strategy and delivery of apprenticeship programmes across the group. The aim at that time was “to test the water, particularly in the branch network”. The bank now has 25 different apprenticeships programmes and intends to launch another 6 this year and it has created over 5,500 apprenticeships since 2012, of which 1,200 started last year. The specialist programmes include finance, human resources, risk, and surveying. Surveying, in particular, “provides a great opportunity to address the challenges of an ageing workforce".
Apprenticeships, of course, can also be used to build workforces in newer disciplines and to fill skills gaps and priority roles. The four-year IT and digital solutions degree apprenticeship that Lloyds Banking Group offers in collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University has been underway for three years, with the first cohort to graduate in a few years’ time. Lloyds will launch its first Masters equivalent programmes this year, in general leadership; digital & IT solutions; and professional accounting.
Who applies to do an apprenticeship?
Marshall says that the profile has shifted over the last year, following the introduction of the levy. Lloyds Banking Group has a ‘Helping Britain Prosper Plan’, which has supported a year-on-year increase in the overall number of apprenticeships at the bank, both in excess of internal targets and, Marshall says, the national trend. However, the split between internal and external colleagues has changed. Prior to the levy the focus was on external recruitment and entry-level roles. Now there has now been an increase in internal applications (the split is currently 50/50), in part because “there is more understanding internally of what apprenticeships can offer”. There continues to be “a lot of interest” from school leavers. “Some had a university offer and decided to do a higher apprenticeship instead. They don’t look back at all,” said Marshall.
Like all large employers, Lloyds was nudged by the government into launching apprenticeships in 2012, to help address problems around diversity, inclusion and youth unemployment. However, it no longer has to be pushed. “We absolutely see the business benefits,” says Marshall. “Apprentices are more engaged and this leads to higher levels of performance.
Apprentices also gain
In particular, there are clear financial benefits to doing a degree apprenticeship. The employer pays the course fees, gives the apprentice a salary and time to train. Students will graduate without having to incur any debt. However, money is not necessarily the main driver, Marshall says. “Some want to apply their learning right away and others want to get experience and onto a career ladder.” She says that the degree apprentices go on to“exactly the same process” as graduate applicants. “We are looking for future leaders…they are seen as the talent of the future. We find it works really well.”
"Very little drop-off"
Doing an apprenticeship – studying alongside working – is not the easy option. How many stay the course on Lloyds Banking Group apprenticeships?
There is “very little” drop-off among higher apprentices, says Marshall. Averaged across all programmes it is around 80 per cent. “Understanding at the start, by both the apprentice and the line manager, of what the programme involves is the key. If you get that right, the apprentice will finish the training.”
Lloyds took on 20 degree apprentices last year and will have more than that this year and next. It also plans to build out its stable of training providers as its offer diversifies. Deciding what degree apprenticeships to offer is not driven by region, but by business need. Lloyds has committed to a public target of creating 8,000 apprenticeship opportunities by the end of 2020 as part of its Helping Britain Prosper Plan.
Whether you’re an employer looking to invest in the future of your business or an aspiring apprentice seeking a work-based training programme, we can help you make the most of all the opportunities apprenticeships have to offer.