Rethinking apprenticeships

By Nick Batten on 10 February, 2021

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Lisa Parkinson of GK Apprenticeships explains why she thinks it’s time that organisations were re-educated about apprenticeships … 

Tell us about your role

As a Senior Apprenticeship Consultant, my role is to advise levy and non-levy employers how to best utilise apprenticeship programmes within their organisations. I consult with employers who are based on the M4 corridor and the South West region. I’m originally from Bath and so I want to build awareness of GK Apprenticeships and the benefits of apprenticeships in the area. 

What is the difference between a levy and a non-levy employer?

Non- levy employers are small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who don’t pay the apprenticeship levy and have a PAYE payroll annual bill of less than £3m. 

A levy employer is a larger organisation that automatically pays 0.5% of their annual PAYE into their levy pot which has to be used for bringing in new apprentices or for upskilling and developing their existing employees. 

What are the current incentives available for those employers wishing to take on apprentices OR upskill their staff?

SMEs can secure either 95% or 100% of funding from the government depending on the size of the company and the age of the apprentice. These incentives apply to new apprentices or existing employees. 

Additionally – for both levy and non-levy employers – the government has introduced a new incentive of up to £3,000 for any employers who take on a new apprentice between August 2020 and 31st March 2021. 

How have apprenticeships developed over the years? 

Apprenticeships need to be demystified; people sometimes assume that they are just for school leavers. But the demographic is much broader now. They are open to everybody who is 16 and above. Plenty of our candidates are graduates who are looking for a change of direction. 

Also, all of our programmes are a level 3 or a level 4, so when you complete the programme you will achieve a nationally recognised qualification. 

What are your most popular courses?

They are all popular in their own right, but Business Analyst, Data Analyst, Software Developer, Software Tester, Project Manager (the only non-IT programme we deliver), and Cyber Security are all doing particularly well at the moment. 

How does GK Apprenticeships work with employers and apprentices to achieve success?

We work very closely with the apprentice and the employer to make sure both parties have as much support as possible. There is an account manager; a development coach for the apprentice and we also provide a programme manager who oversees the delivery of each programme. Moreover, our programmes are very bespoke.  

Can employees currently on furlough sign up to an apprenticeship programme?

If you are on furlough but have already started a programme then you can carry on training with your provider.

How are you celebrating National Apprenticeship Week?

Each day we’re sharing videos putting the spotlight on apprentices and employers – showcasing our success stories. We’re also hosting a series of Q&A events online. 

For more information visit Lisa’s LinkedIn page. 

Pictured above: Lisa Parkinson, Senior Apprenticeship Consultant at GK Apprenticeships