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What You Never Knew About Apprenticeships and the PMO

Since April 2017, organisations with a pay bill over £3 million each year, must pay the apprenticeship levy. As reported in People Management:

Levy-paying employers contribute 0.5 per cent of their pay bill into a fund each month, which can be reinvested in apprenticeship training for their business. And for every £1 contributed, the government adds 10p.

All business with a pay bill over £3 million each year contribute to the levy regardless of whether they have apprentices or not.

But why wouldn’t a business utilise something like this if it’s already paying in?

How Apprenticeships Work

I wanted to understand more about the apprenticeship route because I think it’s a great idea for addressing the skills gaps we’re going to be potentially facing in project management as older workers begin to retire. I also think the PMO is a brilliant place for apprentices because working in a PMO is brilliant of course!

So how would I go about getting an apprentice into my PMO team?

1. It can be a new hire or someone already in the organisation

I didn’t realise that an apprentice is not just a young person – sure, they have to be over the age of 16 but it can be literally anyone, young or old, in the business already or not.

If you’re looking to hire an apprentice – there’s a Find an Apprentice part of the government website where you can advertise for someone.

2. They have to study

They have to be combining work with study to gain specific knowledge and skills in a specific job. They need to be paid at the minimum wage level or above. They also, according to the government apprenticeship website:

  • working with experienced staff
  • learning job-specific skills
  • studying during their working week (for example, at a college or training organisation)

3. There is funding for the training available

Because the organisation is already paying into the apprenticeship levy, there are funds available from the government to cover the training costs. It varies based on where in the UK you are and here’s how they work out how much funding your organisation will have access to:

The amount of funding entering your account each month is calculated by:

  • the levy you declare to HMRC through the PAYE process
  • multiplied the proportion of your pay bill paid to your workforce who live in England
  • plus a 10% government top-up on this amount

So there’s conversations to be had with the HR and payroll departments to see what’s potentially available for your PMO.

4. There has to be an apprenticeship training plan in place

ApprenticeshipsFor each apprentice you have or want to hire and the funds you’ve been given, these have to be spent on apprenticeship training schemes plus you’re also paying for them to be assessed at the end of the training too.

For example, for a Project Controls apprentice, there is a Level 3 Diploma in project control practice as a final qualification. That one takes 36-42 months. For a Project Administrator apprentice, they would complete business administration training with a Level 3 apprenticeship at the end of it (a bit of a shocker that the business administration training only seems to be the thing available for this level!) The training is mostly carried out by day release to the training provider.

These apprenticeships are more aligned to the novices and inexperienced workers, perhaps straight out of school or similar.

So how about for people already working? What can they do?

This is the bit I never knew about apprenticeships

You can have someone in your PMO today who perhaps wants to go down the route of learning about project data analytics – and they can do this via an apprenticeship.

They could gain the BCS accredited Data Analyst Level 4 Apprenticeship, equivalent to a foundation degree in data analytics – in 15 months whilst still working as part of the PMO team.

All this stuff we’ve been talking about – having a data analyst as part of the PMO – could be achieved by the apprenticeship route.

The Project Data Analytics apprenticeship is available for new apprentices from January 2020. [Take a look at it here] So what you waiting for, time to get in touch with the HR department?

We’d love to hear from you if your PMO is already using apprentices, leave a comment or get in touch, we’d love to hear about your experiences. Or join us over in our Linkedin group to join in the discussion.

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