Using the Apprenticeship Levy to Support Businesses through COVID

Many businesses and organisations continue to struggle through the challenges that the pandemic has brought to the world. But the Apprenticeship Levy presents both levy and non-levy payers with solutions and opportunities to survive, recover and grow.

Levy Transfers

In 2019, £400 million of unspent Apprenticeship Levy expired but this doesn’t have to be the case for 2020. Do you know that Levy payers can gift or transfer up to 25% of their levy pots to non-levy payers, instead of it being returned to the government? This means that an SME could top-up the 95% apprenticeship funding they receive from the government with money from a levy pot, in order to receive fully funded training. Levy payers can choose who they gift their levy to so this is an opportunity to support your supply chain, the local community, or industries aligned with your company’s corporate social responsibility agenda.

If you are a levy payer interested in gifting some of your levy pot, or an SME interested in receiving a levy transfer, get in touch with us and we can talk you through the next steps.

Changes to Responsibilities

Redundancies, restructures, furloughed staff and changes to ways of working have created additional skills gaps in many organisations. You might have employees who have taken on extra duties or supervisors who now need to manage their teams remotely. You can support these members of staff to take on these different responsibilities with apprenticeship training. For example, our Level 5 Operational/Departmental Apprenticeship develops knowledge and skills in how to how to lead and manage people, communicate and build relationships, as well as how to be responsible, agile and inclusive.

One of the great things about apprenticeships is that it isn’t just at the end of the qualification that the individual and business reap the benefits. Apprentices can start developing and implementing the knowledge, skills and behaviours they learn from day one.

Morale and Productivity

Mental wellbeing and morale are important issues for employers, particularly in the current climate, with some people feeling overworked, anxious or isolated. Apprenticeship training has been proven to have a positive effect on staff morale, both for the individuals undertaking the apprenticeship and other members of the team by making employees feel more engaged, valued, committed and supported. By improving morale and reducing skills gaps, apprenticeships also improve productivity, reduce staff turnover and increase revenue.


Many businesses had to make staff redundant earlier in the year but as parts of England have come out of full lockdown and organisations have re-booted, they are finding they have different skills needs to before the crisis. Bringing in apprentices is a great way to give your remaining members of staff additional administrative support, enabling them to get on with their key activities.

Due to the training investment the apprentice is receiving, newly-recruited apprentices can be paid a lower wage than fully-trained staff, although most of Damar’s partner-employers pay considerably more than the current minimum apprenticeship wage. At £4.15ph the apprenticeship minimum is lower than the national minimum wage which ranges from £4.55 (for those under 18) up to £8.72 (for those aged 25 and older). If the apprentice is aged 16-18, they can be paid the minimum apprenticeship wage until they reach 19 or the end of the first year of the apprenticeship, if later. Those aged 19+ can be paid the minimum apprenticeship wage for the first year.


Up until the end of January, employers can claim incentives for any new apprentices they take on. These grants are £3,000 for 16-18 year olds, £2,000 for 19-24 year olds and £1,500 for people aged 25 and over. The incentives can be used to pay for training, salaries or wider business needs. This means that in many cases, even without receiving a levy transfer, SMEs can cover all of the apprenticeship training costs. In addition, if you are employing an apprentice under the age of 25, it is likely that you will not have to make National Insurance payments for the earnings of that individual.

Next Steps

Whether you’re a large levy payer or a smaller SME, apprenticeships a great tool to helping you and your team get back on track. We have experience of working with hundreds of private and public sector organisations across England and can help you implement apprenticeship training for new or existing staff. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can support your business, now and into the future.