Mr Paul Bramwell MCIOB
Title: Bridging the skills gap with the support of the UK Government Apprenticeship Levy
We need to consider the option of employing apprentices from differing backgrounds to encourage a wealth of future talent into the construction sector and advance the industry, says Paul Bramwell.
Have you considered employing an apprentice? In 2022, the Founder and Managing Director of Bramwell Consulting, began exploring the different options to appoint new employees to expand their Project Controls and Dispute Resolution Practice. Following numerous conversations with fellow business colleagues, the decision was taken to investigate the option of recruiting an apprentice from a non-cognate route.
The next challenge for the growing consultancy, was to consider how to fund the new appointment. Following research through the UK Government website, it was identified that a proportion of the course funding could be secured through the Apprenticeship Levy. The Apprenticeship Levy is an amount paid at 0.5% of an employer’s annual pay bill for those businesses with an annual pay bill of more than £3 million. Given the current annual salary bill for Bramwell Consulting, there was not a requirement to pay into the levy but there was still the option to secure an allocation of course fees from the centralised funding pot. The funding allowance provides the employer with circa 95% of the tuition fees costs towards the payment of their preferred course.
Setting up an apprenticeship account through the UK Government portal is extremely straightforward. Once you have set up your account, the portal provides the user with the option to apply filters for different sectors and identify courses relevant to their business. There are currently 96 training courses in construction and the built environment sector alone! Given such a broad range of courses for the built environment, there will be one to suit the nature of your business, be that a demolition contractor through to a geospatial engineering consultancy. We opted for an apprenticeship in Digital and Technology solutions to support the development of our inhouse data analytics and data visualisation offering.
Both the course provider and the employer of the apprentice are required to sign a training agreement. The training agreement ensures that the employer will employ the Apprentice for the duration of the Apprenticeship Programme. With this in mind, it is important to consider the commitment required for your business to support the apprentice for a fixed period and allocate sufficient time each week for the apprentice to undertake their personal studying with your selected training provider.
We took the plunge in summer 2022, and we are now well into the first year of our two-year Apprenticeship Programme with the University of Newcastle. We meet with the university on a regular basis to undertake our tripartite reviews. These meetings provide all parties with the opportunity to discuss the successes and equally the areas which we consider require improvements. We have found the balance between in person lectures combined with personal study to be a successful blend of educational training. This is complemented by our inhouse project specific activities whereby we implement the skills gained on the course to develop the expansion of our business services.
The key message from our current experience is to register with the UK Government Apprenticeship portal and select your preferred training course. This will enable your business to secure the necessary funding from the Apprenticeship Levy. The portal provides the facility to select the course, advertise the apprenticeship and view applications from prospective apprentices. This user friendly platform is open to the built environment and we need to utilise the Apprenticeship Levy funding to partner with training providers and develop the future community of the built environment.
Our apprentice has assisted in the organic growth of our business and we have since added a further senior appointment. Without the UK Government Apprenticeship Levy funding, we would have been more cautious given the investment required from our practice. We can say with confidence, that it was the correct decision to take the plunge, secure the Apprenticeship Funding and expand our business.
Quote from our apprentice, Lewis Bramwell. ‘The appointment with Bramwell Consulting, has provided me with the opportunity to apply my mathematical and computational knowledge to implement new systems to the business. We have partnered with our key clients and utilised the Microsoft Power BI platform to represent graphical data in a visually appealing manner along with providing a dynamically responsive dataset. We are now providing the services in the UK and North America to assist clients with business intelligence and risk management. I am excited by the opportunity of implementing new ideas into the built environment to improve processes management during the preconstruction phase and on live projects.’
In summary, consider the advantages of an apprentice from a non-cognate graduate pathway and tap into the Apprenticeship Levy funding. We are looking forward to the continuation of our Apprenticeship Programme and growing our services with our existing and future client base.
Article by Paul Bramwell, Founder and Managing Director of Bramwell Consulting.