top of page

Unlocking the Potential of the Apprenticeship Levy

Empowering Universities to Harness the Full Benefits of the Apprenticeship Levy

The apprenticeship levy was introduced in 2017 to encourage employers to invest in apprenticeship training. But of the 20,000 or so levy paying employers, only 4% are spending their full apprenticeship levy funds. Over the past 5 years, 44.5% of all levy funding has gone unused, and in FY 2017-2018 and 2021-2022, £3.5 billion expired under FIFO (first in, first out) principles.

Whilst the employer bears the primary responsibility for utilising the levy, universities have a crucial role to play in helping employers maximise the impact of their levy contributions.

In this ongoing series, we delve into the key issues faced by universities, and present effective strategies for overcoming them. In this instalment, we provide a guide to help universities proactively address the challenges of the levy, allowing them to maximise its benefits.

Two people working together looking at a computer screen
Two People Working Together Looking at a Computer Screen

Understanding the Challenges:

Universities aspiring to assist employers in optimising their apprenticeship levy contributions encounter a dual challenge that encompasses understanding employer needs ad effectively delivering tailored support. These challenges revolve around:

  1. Understanding Employer Needs: Navigating the diverse landscape of employers' industries, sizes, and objectives poses the initial hurdle. Universities must invest time and resources to comprehend each employer's unique context, workforce dynamics, and skills gaps. Determining how apprenticeship programs can align with specific business goals, such as upskilling, talent development, and meeting regulatory requirements, requires in-depth analysis.

  2. Tailored Support Delivery: Once universities grasp employers' needs, the challenge lies in delivering bespoke support that addresses those needs effectively. Crafting apprenticeship programs that not only adhere to apprenticeship standards but also seamlessly integrate with employers' workforce strategies demands careful planning. Offering flexible program structures, customising curricula to match job roles, and ensuring that learning outcomes align with business objectives is complex and resource-intensive. To learn how to craft effective curricula, read our guide here.

  3. Navigating Levy Rules and Funding: Universities need to comprehend the intricacies of the apprenticeship levy, funding rules, and eligibility criteria. This requires ongoing awareness and expertise in apprenticeship policy changes, as well as the ability to assist employers in optimising their levy funds through strategic program design.

  4. Effective Communication and Collaboration: Building strong relationships and communication channels with employers is crucial. Universities must engage in open dialogue to comprehend employer needs and communicate how apprenticeship programs can address them. Effective collaboration demands flexibility, responsiveness, and the ability to tailor solutions that accommodate evolving business needs. Read more about developing employer relationships here.

  5. Monitoring and Continuous Improvement: The challenge persists in ensuring that the provided apprenticeship programs deliver measurable outcomes for employers. Universities must implement monitoring mechanisms, gather feedback, and continually refine their offerings to align with shifting employer demands and market trends.

  6. Resource Allocation: Delivering customised support demands resources, including skilled personnel, technology infrastructure, curriculum development, and ongoing program management. Striking a balance between addressing varied employer requirements and managing resource allocation efficiently is an ongoing challenge.

To address these challenges, universities should adopt strategic approaches:

  1. Employer Engagement: Develop a comprehensive strategy to engage employers, incorporating needs assessment, targeted communication, and relationship-building efforts. Read more about developing employer relationships here.

  2. Customised Program Design: Craft apprenticeship programs that seamlessly integrate with employers' workforce strategies, job roles, and specific skills needs. Tailor curricula and delivery modes to meet diverse requirements.

  3. Expertise Development: Build a team with expertise in apprenticeship policy, funding, and curriculum design. Establish a network of industry experts to stay informed about changing employer needs.

  4. Data-Driven Insights: Leverage data analytics to identify industry trends, anticipate skill gaps, and align program offerings accordingly.

  5. Feedback Loop: Establish a feedback loop with employers to continually refine and adapt program offerings based on evolving needs.

Universities striving to assist employers with apprenticeship levy optimisation must surmount the challenges of understanding diverse employer contexts and offering tailored solutions. This requires expertise, effective communication, and a commitment to delivering impactful apprenticeship programs that drive workforce development and business success.


In the intricate landscape of apprenticeship levy optimisation, universities stand as vital allies to employers, wielding the potential to translate levy contributions into strategic workforce growth. By understanding diverse employer needs and crafting tailored solutions, universities can bridge the gap between apprenticeship standards and business objectives. Navigating challenges such as complex funding rules, customised program design, effective collaboration, and ongoing improvement, universities can pave the way for symbiotic partnerships that foster skilled professionals and thriving enterprises. Through strategic engagement and steadfast commitment, universities can transform apprenticeships into dynamic avenues for business advancement, cementing their role as catalysts for workforce development and economic prosperity.


How does Rubitek Help?

By offering an all-encompassing platform that empowers universities with tools for effective curriculum design, communication, monitoring, and industry insights, Rubitek fosters a seamless ecosystem where universities can navigate challenges and provide employers with tailored apprenticeship solutions. In doing so, Rubitek aids universities in their mission to bridge the gap between academic excellence and workplace relevance, ultimately contributing to the success of both learners and employers in the apprenticeship journey.

To find out more, get in touch with us today.

7 views0 comments


bottom of page