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Higher and Degree Apprenticeships - making the most of the levy?

‘Earn as you learn’ offers options for a career in physiotherapy – or a higher qualification at master’s level. Seize the opportunity to study without getting a loan, says Ieuan Ellis

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The government’s new apprenticeships levy which came into force from 6 April 2017 is designed to incentivise the number of employers investing in skills training.

How it works

All employers in the UK with a wage bill of more than £3m will pay a levy (a mandatory tax) of 0.5 per cent to HMRC through PAYE. This sum will accumulate in a digital account that will enable the employer to buy training or apprenticeships from a registered apprenticeships training provider. Large employers will be able to reclaim the levy in apprenticeship training vouchers. For every £1 paid via the levy, the scheme pays back £1.10 in training.

Businesses with an average wage bill of less than £3m are exempt from the levy but will be eligible for 90 per cent government funding for apprenticeship training and assessment, provided they pay the balancing 10 per cent. Companies with fewer than 50 employees who take on an apprentice aged 16-18 will receive 100 per cent government funding. The new funding system came into effect on 1 May 2017. 


So, what opportunities do apprenticeships present for physiotherapy?

It could be argued that physiotherapy pre-registration degree programmes are already significantly based on an apprenticeship model, given that 1000 hours of study are work-based, with students working under supervision and with their competence being assessed.

Although new apprenticeship levy funding requires 80 per cent employment-based study, this ratio of work-based/university-based study is already commonplace in the design of part-time physiotherapy degree and the design of part-time post-graduate level study.

The main opportunity of the new levy, is that it now provides an alternative funding stream for graduate-level work-based degrees – ‘earn as you learn’. These may prove attractive to those wishing to complete pre-registration awards in physiotherapy but are deterred from studying on a full-time degree by concern over taking out a student loan.

The levy also creates new opportunities for the funding of physiotherapists to undertake work-based post-registration and postgraduate education at masters and potentially at doctoral level, linked to advanced and specialist clinical roles.

This is a good time and a new opportunity to make the case for employer investment in your continuing professional development!

More information

Q&A on apprenticeship developments

Advanced clinical practice apprenticeship is on the cards

CSP position statement on apprenticeships

Professor Ieuan Ellis is pro vice-chancellor (partnerships and region) at Staffordshire UniversityFollow Ieuan on Twitter

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Post date:

3 May 2017
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