The Fitness Network - Interview with Jenny Patrickson

The Best Ways to Maximise Apprenticeship Plans

Jenny Patrickson is the Managing Director of Active IQ, a leading specialist awarding organisation for active leisure qualifications. Jenny has over 25 years of experience within the active leisure sector, leading the development of specialist health and fitness related awarding organisations to achieve year-on-year growth and excellence in service provision.

Nearly one year on since the Apprenticeship Levy was introduced on April 6, 2017 we checked in with Jenny to see how operators, large and small, can get the most out of their apprenticeship plans.



1) How can large businesses who are paying the levy make the most of the apprenticeship plans?

The first way is to switch over from apprenticeship frameworks to apprenticeship standards because the new style apprenticeships attract more funding. The government tops up the levy and this means the business will benefit more from this increased level of funding. This will mean a switch in styles because, currently, apprenticeship frameworks include the delivery of qualifications and apprentices are assessed along the way, but with the apprenticeship standards the delivery of the programme continues throughout the apprenticeship but the apprentices are not assessed until the very end through what is known as an End Point Assessment. It is a case of getting used to a new model but it will attract more funding to switch to standards.

The other way is to become your own provider – so rather than paying for a training provider to come in and deliver the training, if an employer creates the infrastructure to deliver the training themselves it is going to be much more cost-effective. They may not have the resource to do that initially but if they up-skill the staff in the longer capacity then this is definitely going to help them to use the levy effectively.
Lastly, look at different types of training that the individuals need. Look at the staff requirements and try to offer a range of standards and then you will make more use of that levy payment.


2) How can small and medium-sized businesses who are not paying the levy maximise the opportunities available to them?

It is worth remembering that, for SME’s, 90% of the cost of an apprenticeship is funded by the government so the SME’s are only paying 10% themselves which is a really positive thing. Also, for employers with less than 50 employees, the government will fund 100% of apprenticeships for 16-18 year olds.
The other thing is, again, the switch from frameworks to standards. It is a little bit harder for smaller businesses to create their own training in-house, but the register of apprenticeship training providers is the place that employers can source a registered training provider to deliver those apprenticeships for them. There are many organisations that have a good reputation in terms of working with small and medium-sized business to offer that training. The things to look out for are high-quality training and also good completion rates.


3) What are the benefits of having the new End Point Assessment Procedure?

The apprentices have plenty of time to develop their knowledge, skills, competencies and behaviours for the job that they are actually doing throughout their apprenticeship journey.

When they are assessed, it is by an independent assessor which is positive because it is someone who hasn’t been involved in the delivery of the apprenticeship programme.
It is independent, they have plenty of time to develop their skills and they go forward for assessment when they are deemed ready to do that.


4) How should apprentice career progression be managed?

In terms of recruitment and career progression for apprentices who have completed their assessment, it is worth remembering that they have been training whilst they are in the job role so it is typical that they would continue in that a role and gain more experience by trying different aspects of the job.
By using the levy, in terms of using it to its maximum potential, there is an opportunity there for progression. If you took, for example, the leisure team member apprenticeship standard, which is in the pipeline of being signed off at the moment, someone might take that apprenticeship and carry on in the role and build up their skills, but then at some point move on to the leisure duty manager apprenticeship (for a career progression that is going from level 2 to level 3) and start training in that new job role whilst they are still working for the organisation – so it is a good method of career progression to actually move through different apprenticeship standard job roles but also different levels within the company.

It is also worth remembering that apprenticeship standards don’t serve every role and there are many other roles that are out there such as yoga instructors, pilates instructors, exercise referral specialists and level 4 practitioners, where good training and qualifications are also available. They enable an organisation to employ someone with those skills more quickly than perhaps an apprenticeship could provide. Both have a place – you have apprentices who develop competencies, skills and behaviours over time but you also have qualifications and training that serve the interest of the sector in shorter time frames.


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