Apprenticeship Levy/Trailblazer Guidance for Apprentices

Posted: 25th of August 2016 by Ceri Priddle

Apprenticeship Levy/Trailblazer guidance for Apprentices

Search the internet for “Apprenticeship Levy guidance for learners” or “Trailblazer guidance for learners” and your results are limited, and certainly not relevant. Although as a learner you are not expected to understand the rules and regulations of apprenticeship funding, it is good practise to understand the future of apprenticeships, especially if you have your eye on advanced and higher apprenticeship programmes.

As you may or may not be aware, apprenticeships are currently undergoing a heavy period of change and we think it is crucial to give you an overview and an idea of how these changes are likely to affect you as an apprentice or a potential apprentice.

Let’s start with Trailblazers…


In 2012 the Government commissioned a review of the entire apprenticeship system in England, with an aim to find out whether the current standards were meeting the needs of employers; the results unanimously indicated that they were not.

This has triggered significant adjustments to Apprenticeships in England – apprenticeship standards will now be specified by employers – who have been gifted the power to define exactly what skills, knowledge and behaviour they require for their respective industries.

Once Trailblazer reforms come into effect the structure of how apprentices are currently assessed will change. Once the remodel is completed, as opposed to continuous assessment which is the current practice, apprentices will only be assessed when they have maximum knowledge and experience through an end point assessment.

End-Point Assessments (EPA) may include:

  • Tests
  • Examinations
  • Professional discussions
  • Workplace observation
  • Testing in a practical test facility
  • Workplace projects
  • Portfolio of work
  • Assignments
  • Workplace projects
  • Projects away from work (invigilated or otherwise)
  • Professional discussions
  • Assessment of work output

Apprenticeship Levy

This levy is more a transformation in the way apprenticeships are funded, and therefore less likely to have an effect on current learners.  However it will have a huge impact on employers, which in turn will knock on to learners.

What is the Levy?

The Levy is, in effect a charge which will be payable by any employer with a payroll (wage bill) of more than £3m – whether or not they have an apprentice. Each organisation will have to pay 0.5% of their payroll bill, for example;

A company has a payroll of £5m

0.5% =£25K

The company are granted a £15,000 rebate, therefore the company will pay £10,000 towards the apprenticeship levy. In addition to their contribution the government pays a 10% uplift taking their contribution to £11k – available for them to spend on apprenticeship training.

This is good news for potential apprentices as effectively the government are forcing employers to at least consider apprenticeships as a practical tool to replenish and invigorate workforces.


The idea behind introducing the Levy is the government’s attempt to provide higher quality apprenticeships for learners.

By involving employers more heavily in the development and funding of apprenticeships, the government hopes that the Levy will prompt employers to pay closer attention to apprenticeships and apprenticeship quality.

The apprenticeship Levy comes into play May 2017.



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