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How the Apprenticeship Levy works for you

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Capability & Skills, GSE Profession Updates, Talent & Leadership

In Patrick Vallance’s blog Progressing the GSE Profession with Pride, he wrote ‘The first [step] is to review how we think about apprenticeships. There is a great opportunity here and one that I was slow to recognise in my last job. Only when I came into contact with the apprentices in the R&D scheme at GSK (where I was working) did the full potential really hit me. They were brilliant, the opportunity was evident, and the diversity was compelling. We need to realise the potential for apprentice schemes and promote opportunities.’

Improving skills across the profession

As part of the Government Science and Engineering profession strategy we are working to improve capability and skills so our members have the right ability, knowledge and expertise to deliver the governments priorities.

Apprenticeships offer the exciting opportunity to gain a qualification while working, with 80% of your time on the job and 20% learning or doing apprenticeship assignments. The apprenticeship levy, introduced in May 2017, supports government and businesses to develop skills, and diversify recruitment. In the year 2017/18 there were 814,800 people across England participating in an apprenticeship.

Is this for me?

There’s a chance that you don’t consider apprenticeships relevant for you, or as a recruitment tool for your team. You may think that apprenticeships exist purely to develop trade skills or business development skills. Apprenticeships cover qualifications from GCSE through to Masters level degrees, and are open to all grades. They can be used to upskill new starters, but are also available to existing staff who want to take the next step in their career.

Increasingly apprenticeships are being offered across all sectors including government, in all functions and professions, to address a wide range of skills gaps, develop individuals, and bring in fresh talent. Every government department has a levy to fund apprentices, which means all the training costs are met by your department from a central budget - but this is underused. We are working hard to encourage departments to make better use of this money to support GSE members seeking apprenticeships.

An apprentice draws on a white board
Apprenticeships can help you acquire the skills to move across GSE roles. For example moving from specialist to policy roles or generalist to specialist.

How can I get involved?

As part of our work we are encouraging the Heads of Science and Engineering profession across departments to consider apprenticeships for their workforce. But the change also comes from you, the GSE Profession members. If you think you, or someone in your team, would benefit from an opportunity to develop skills or gain a qualification while working, then get in touch with your departmental HR Business Partner and Apprenticeship lead. You should also consider apprenticeships when filling vacancies in your team. We welcome your feedback on what support you need to make this happen.

We would also like to promote the variety of apprenticeships that are offered across government, from policy officer roles, to assistant economists, and within our own profession, for laboratory technicians and engineers, through to applied business skills and project management. Your department will have a range of skill specific training opportunities for you to take advantage of.

What else are we doing for GSE careers?

The central GSE team are also overseeing the development of a Government Science and Engineering career framework in line with the new success profiles and a learning package to support this. This work is in its preliminary stages and you may have already participated in some early workshops held in April to inform the development of the framework. We want to ensure people across the Profession get a say in how the new framework shapes up, so keep an eye out for future calls for your views!

If you would like to find out more about any of the above (particularly in relation to the Apprenticeship levy), please email

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1 comment

  1. Comment by Tim Moss posted on

    Apprenticeships are a great way of bringing youth into an ageing workforce. I run an engineering company and we are always on the lookout for young people.

    There is a real lack of skilled engineers available in the UK and we need to do something about it.