How Covéa is levelling up with the apprenticeship levy
Authored by Covéa Insurance's Matthew Metcalfe
When the apprenticeship levy launched five years ago, some firms initially just wrote the money off as another expense. Organisations with an annual wage bill of over £3million must deposit 0.5% into a digital account ringfenced for training employees.
As an employer with over 1600 employees, we’ve found the levy to be a flexible business tool that we’ve used from the outset to invest in wide-ranging training programmes, helping to upskill our people and provide a wide range of development opportunities. This is in addition to creating new apprenticeship roles to plug skills shortages, something many businesses are currently experiencing.
Although available since launch, an aspect of the levy now gathering momentum is the ability for any business to access levy cash. That’s because levy payers can share up to 25% of their levy fund with other organisations. Unspent levy funds by default are returned to the Treasury after 2 years, so companies lose their levy if they don’t use it all within the timeframe. This creates a strong incentive and opportunity to maximise the impact of levy funds.
The key is connecting employers wanting to access levy funds with those offering to share them. To support this, two platforms have been developed that I would recommend. The Co-op was first to contact me about their site, followed a year later by the government when their own version was created. Both services make it really easy to see which companies are putting training cash up for grabs and to how to apply. It’s how one of our brokers spotted we had funding available and got in touch.
Having the certainty of levy funds makes planning ahead to ensure we meet demand for business skills much easier. Degree apprenticeships are one of the areas where we receive most enquiries when we attend school and college careers events. Many young people tell us they either don’t want or cannot afford to take the university path. That’s why we’re planning to put a strong degree apprenticeship programme in place next year to supplement our future graduate population.
Social mobility continues to be an important priority and how we use our levy is one of the ways we are ‘levelling up’. We’ve chosen to concentrate our levy donations in three key areas; support services linked to our supply chain, services our people need to access daily - such as healthcare - and helping the charities that do so much to make our communities a better place. I feel very proud that to date we’ve donated over £177k and that every penny of our levy has been put to good use.
Covéa Insurance is the UK underwriting business of the leading French mutual insurance Group Covéa and offers competitively-priced household and motor insurance, along with a range of commercial insurance products designed to meet the needs of most businesses, through a nationwide network of intermediaries.
Regional distribution teams based in 9 regional offices offer brokers and insurance intermediaries direct access to senior underwriters. Covéa Insurance handles the insurance needs of over 1 million policyholders.