Apprenticeship levy in schools - April 2018

Published: 3 May 2018
The Skills Made Easy team within Sheffield City Council support the council and maintained schools with understanding and utilising the new apprenticeship levy. This year the team have helped a number of schools and have about 30 teaching Assistant apprentices started.

An Apprenticeship Levy was introduced in April 2017 on all large employers (public and private) with a pay bill of £3 million or more. Employers will pay 0.5% of their payroll into the Apprenticeship Service. This can only be used to pay for apprenticeship fees.

All public sector employers with over 250 staff should set 2.3% of their staff onto an apprenticeship every year.  Maintained schools are included in Sheffield City Council’s (SCC) levy, and need to meet the public sector target. 

Who pays the levy?

Community schools (including voluntary controlled schools)

Local authorities will typically be responsible for paying the levy in the community schools they maintain and where the local authority employs the staff and pays National Insurance contributions (NICs). Such staff will be counted as part of the local authority’s payroll.  We expect the cost of the levy to be passed on to schools in the same way that employer National Insurance and superannuation is.  Where the local authority is the employer, schools will have access to funding for apprenticeship training, via the local authority’s Digital Apprenticeship Service account. 

Maintained schools where the LA does not administer the payroll

For community and voluntary controlled  schools, the salary bill will count as part of the LA’s total paybill.  If payroll is not provided by the LA, the school will need to liaise with its payroll provider and the LA to ensure the correct payment is made. To access the apprenticeship levy a school should identify the apprenticeship required and then Headteacher / Business Manager should access the apprentice approval recruitment form from SchoolPoint.

Once the approval form has been signed off and sent to Life Long Learning & Skills and HR Learning & Development, the school can commence with their recruitment and will work closely with Lifelong Learning and Skills on this. Once the recruitment has been completed the school must then submit the Schools Apprentice Recruitment Application Form (available on SchoolPoint) to HR learning and Development.

Guidance on this process and how to complete these forms is also available on SchoolPoint.

When going through the recruitment process all apprentices need to complete a full Sheffield City Council (SCC) application form and provide 2 references which schools must keep on record.  All information to be recorded on school’s Single Central Record in accordance with safeguarding and OfSTED requirements.

Support available

The Skills Made Easy team within Sheffield City Council Lifelong Learning & Skills have supported over 1000 local employers with the recruitment and training of over 2000 apprentices since 2013 and have a high level of expertise in setting up effective apprenticeship programmes for employers whilst recruiting local young people into the roles they create. The Skills Made Easy team are the main point of contact for Schools in order to:


-Better understand how your Apprenticeship Levy can be utilised

-Explain and access funding options

-Explain and access wage support schemes

-Navigate training options

-Training delivery

-Procure provision on behalf of Sheffield City Council

-Advise on new qualifications that the Apprenticeship Levy can be spent on

-Support all aspects of recruitment, advertising and selection  

This dedicated Account Manager led service is available to all Schools free of charge and is designed to help you make better, more informed decisions about options around your Apprenticeship Levy spend. To contact the team please call Tony Robinson on (0114) 229 6132

The Skills Made Easy team welcome the opportunity to be invited to Schools and Governors meetings to explain in more detail how school can utilise and benefit from the Apprenticeship Levy and discuss options around Government grants and tax incentives available through the scheme. 

So far

Since the apprenticeship levy was first applied by Government in May 2017 Sheffield Schools have utilised their allocation on the following starts utilising approximately £100k of the Council’s overall Apprenticeship levy (up to April 2018):



Business Admin L2


Business Admin L3


Childcare L2




Teaching & Learning L2


Teaching & Learning L3






Can we use the levy to support wage costs: No, the levy can only be utilised on training costs. There are wage subsidies and tax breaks available in certain circumstances which the Skills Made Easy team can explain in more detail.

Is the apprenticeship just for newly recruited staff: No, it is a common misconception that apprenticeships are all young people starting out on their career. Any current member of staff doing a training course (from Level 2 to Level 7) which can be embedded as an “apprenticeship” will be eligible to have their course funded through the apprenticeship levy. The course needs to be available as a recognised apprenticeship “standard” or “framework” and the Skills Made Easy team can advise on options around this.

We’re a maintained school, can we partner with colleges and training organisations of our choice to use our apprenticeship levy: No, only provision/organisations procured through Sheffield City Council are eligible. If the courses you want are not available through existing procurement arrangements the Skills Made Easy team will initiate a process of procuring that which you require. If you are not a maintained school you have no restrictions on the training organisations you wish to use.

What are the wages we would need to pay a newly recruited apprentice: Sheffield City Council pay newly recruited apprentice posts the Apprenticeship Living Wage which currently stands at £4.39 per hour. This wage is eligible for the first 12 months of someone’s apprenticeship OR until they turn 19, if not 19 or older during the first 12 months of study the lower wage can be applied until they turn 19 or complete their first apprenticeship. After this period normal National Minimum Wage rules apply.

What commitments do we need to provide as employers of someone training on a recognised apprenticeship: The member of staff studying on an apprenticeship ‘standard’ or ‘framework’ is first and foremost your employee and should be treated under the same terms and conditions as all employees. The only difference is that you need to allow 20% of their paid employment to be spent on ‘off the job training’ be that in work, at a training centre or a combination of both.

How long does the apprenticeship last:  Apprenticeships are tailored to an individuals ability and the complexity/level of study, as such it is impossible to say for definite how long each will take until the learner has been met by their tutor and initial assessments carried out. As a rule of thumb though Teaching Assistants will last approximately 14-18 calendar months and Admin around 12 – 16 calendar months.

Will the new Teaching apprenticeships be available through Sheffield City Council: We are working to achieve this and will keep interested Schools updated on progress.

There are plenty of options available and the Skills Made Easy team will happily come out and discuss options or answer any questions you have so please contact the team on (0114) 229 6132. 

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