Apprenticeships finally taking centre stage

This month saw the beginning of the much-discussed Apprenticeship Levy. The government sees this as the a way to create get more young people into skilled work, creating three million new apprenticeships by 2020. Those unsure about the scheme have painted it as an unfair tax on business, but we think a little push is the perfect way to show businesses how valuable working with apprentices can be.

First things first, what’s the situation with the levy?

  • Companies with a payroll of over £3m will have to contribute 0.5% through PAYE.
  • You can claim back the amount you pay in to support apprenticeship schemes.
  • If you’re not eligible for the levy, you can still access government support to take on apprentices.

Why are apprenticeships important for businesses?

A business is only as good as it’s people.

The most exciting place I’ve ever worked (apart from thirdbridge of course!) was extremely diverse. Every staff member came from totally different backgrounds, but we were united in one place by our passion for the cause we were working for. Not only did we benefit from a whole host of different viewpoints, but we were able to appeal to a whole range of stakeholders easily – everyone we spoke to could see themselves reflected in us. It made us all challenge our own attitudes and we all left as more well-rounded, open-minded people.

When a business is full of clones, it makes it difficult for innovation to happen. If every person has experienced the same thing, opportunities to be challenged on your views don’t come up as often. I find that the best ideas come when two opposing views come together but each side is open to adapting their opinion.

Apprenticeships are an opportunity to bring some new life into your business, to allow your staff to develop, and to diversify your workforce.

Why are apprentices important for young people?

Apprenticeships are another way for young people to achieve. Academic pursuits aren’t right for everyone, and often people feel pushed into either going to university or just going straight into a job. The skills and experiences that young people can gain from an apprenticeship ensure that those talented young people who make the decision not to go to university still have the chance to thrive and go on to the careers they want to have.

Why are apprentices important for society?

The training, experience, and resulting employability that comes from apprenticeships will create jobs, grow businesses, and strengthen the economy as a whole. A varied, skilled, and thriving workforce is what will keep the UK as a viable economic power, particularly in the turbulent years we have ahead of us.

How can thirdbridge help?

We can give you access to our wide range of charities and social enterprises. Partnering with organisations that are already engaged with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, will make the whole process much easier, while also helping you to reach your diversity and inclusion goals.

Here’s a few to get you going:

Fair Train




Business perspective

Mike Freely, Managing Director of Octink had this to say:


Octink has had an apprenticeship scheme for over 10 years, ever since we originally became an Investor in People. A desire to develop young people from within the local community is at the heart of why we have such a scheme.

The main challenges for us have historically been in attracting prospective apprentices and undertaking the recruitment process. These days we are aligned with local training specialist Hawk Training in Twickenham who not only help with this need but are integral to the training framework we provide apprentices, and for their employer seminars which have helped us plan for and understand the impact the Levy will have.

The benefits are clear in being able to develop an individual often from a young age into exactly the roles you require as a business. Having those with invaluable experience provide mentoring is also positive for both sides. The financial support traditionally provided through the schemes is also useful.

Diversity is certainly achieved in terms of bringing in younger people into the organisation (and in our case certainly more females into what has traditionally been a male-dominated business) as part of our succession planning strategy.

Apprentice perspective

Tim Evans, now employed as an Apprentice Project Coordinator at Octink after an apprenticeship had this to say:


I decided to join the apprenticeship programme so I could further my education while also being in full-time employment.

Without the apprenticeship, I wouldn’t be at this stage of my career by now. It might have taken years of further education or industry experience.

I’ve learned how to more effectively manage time and priorities regarding workload in a professional environment. I’ve also become more proficient with certain IT functions, such as creating reports and databases.

The best thing about being an apprentice has been completing and experiencing first-hand the work required of a Project Manager, while at the same time learning the wider syllabus for this position through my tutor and course resources.

If you need help putting together an strategy for placing or hosting apprentices, feel free to get in touch on 

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