Apprenticeships Skills Policy Plan
The Apprenticeships Skills Policy Plan sets out the Welsh Government's vision for addressing the needs of Welsh businesses and the wider economy. It has been designed to increase skills levels in priority areas, including where shortages have been reported.
Developed in consultation with businesses, the policy and its five year action plan sets out how we will support the delivery of our manifesto and Taking Wales Forward.
We will do this by focusing on four priority areas:
- Increasing the number of apprentices aged 16-19 by increasing the take-up of quality apprenticeships amongst school leavers
- Addressing skills shortages by developing apprenticeships particularly in growth and emerging sectors such as the ICT, Engineering, Construction and Financial and Professional Services
- Developing higher level skills by focusing on apprenticeships at level 4 and above where returns tend to be higher
- Developing skills pathways by integrating apprenticeships into the wider education system and making it easier for someone to enter into an apprenticeship from another learning route.
The Apprenticeship Levy
The Apprenticeship Levy is a UK-wide employment tax introduced by the UK Government that came into force on 6 April 2017. The Levy applies to all UK employers, and employers with an annual ‘pay bill’ of £3 million or more will have to pay the Levy.
The levy is collected across the whole of the UK by HM Revenue and Customs through the PAYE system.
Following an initial announcement in the 2015 summer budget, the Chancellor has confirmed employers with a total pay bill of £3 million or more, will be required to pay towards the national apprenticeship programme.
Who pays the Levy?
The Levy applies to all UK employers and each employer has an allowance of up to £15,000 against their Levy. In reality this means employers from both the public and private sectors with an annual ‘pay bill’ of £3 million or more are required to pay 0.5% of that into the Levy.
How is the Levy calculated?
The Levy has been set at 0.5% of the total annual ‘pay bill’ and this will exclude benefits in kind but it is expected to include other remuneration that is liable to PAYE and/or NIC with holdings. The Levy is collected via the Real Time Information System alongside Income Tax and NIC.
What reliefs are available?
Employers receive an allowance of £15,000 to offset against the Levy and there is an exemption for Employers Class 1 NIC for qualifying apprentices under the age of 25.
Why is the apprenticeship system different in Wales?
Skills, including Apprenticeships, is a matter devolved to the Welsh Government. In Wales, we have developed an apprenticeship system to meet employer demand to drive growth and prosperity.
We already have a strong record on quality, with framework completion rates consistently over 80%.
We are committed to delivering a minimum of 100,000 quality apprenticeships over this term, available to people of all ages.
We have established Regional Skills Partnerships to engage with employers and provide us with intelligence on skills needs and gaps and our provision will reflect these skills shortages.
How will the Levy impact on employers with a cross-border workforce?
Irrespective of where the apprentice lives, or where the employer is based, Welsh Government funding and priorities apply where an apprentice is working in Wales for 51% or more of his/her time.
Irrespective of where the apprentice lives, the funding/voucher arrangements and priorities of the UK Government apply where an apprentice is working in England for 50% or more of his/her time:- call the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on 08000 150 600
1. What is the Apprenticeship Levy?
The Apprenticeship levy is a UK Government employment tax that came into force on 6 April 2017. It is collected across the whole of the UK. All employers (public, private and third sector) with a pay bill of more than £3 million each year will pay the levy. The levy rate is 0.5% of pay bill; there is an allowance of £15,000 per year. The levy is paid to HM Revenue and Customs through the PAYE process.
2. How will the Levy money come to Wales?
The overall allocation that Welsh Government receives from the UK Government is arrived at through the Barnett formula which calculates the Wales ‘share’ of changes to Departmental budgets in Whitehall. Whilst at the 2015 UK Spending Review the UK Government allocated resources to Whitehall Departments to cover programmes financed by the Apprenticeship Levy, these additions were offset by cuts to other programmes, including existing apprenticeship programmes. In aggregate, the UK Government’s Spending Review 2015 means that the Welsh Government’s budget will continue to reduce in real terms over the coming years. Funding provided to Wales is not ring-fenced. A fundamental principle of devolution is that Welsh Ministers allocate resources in their Budget according to Welsh priorities, as approved by the Assembly. The Welsh Government will not know how much employers in Wales have paid to HM Revenue and Customs.
3. What impact will the Levy have on provision in Wales?
The Welsh Government is working with the UK Government to understand the impact of the introduction of the levy in Wales, in particular impact on our funding settlement. The Levy will raise awareness and demand for apprenticeships and workforce development more broadly from levy payers. Even though some aspects remain unclear there is still a need for Welsh Government to plan provision and deliver on its priorities.
4. Will a digital voucher system operate in Wales in the same way as England?
The Welsh Government has no plans to introduce a digital voucher system. We have seen no evidence that a voucher system would improve quality within the system. It would though introduce bureaucracy for employers and uncertainties as to how non levy employers would be supported. There have also been difficulties in the past with education and training vouchers systems in the UK. Many employers and employer bodies have criticised the system being proposed in England.
5. Why is the apprenticeship system different in Wales?
Skills, including apprenticeships, is a matter devolved to the Welsh Government. The Welsh Government has developed its apprenticeship system to meet the needs and priorities of Wales. Wales has a focus on quality to ensure value for money. Apprenticeship delivery and funding is prioritised based on the needs of the economy and employers. For example, we have established Regional Skills Partnerships to engage with employers and provide us with intelligence on skills needs and gaps. We prioritise our provision in line with evidenced need.
6. How are apprenticeships delivered in Wales?
Apprenticeships are delivered and administered through a procured network of quality assured training providers. The provision we commission each year is based on both intelligence from Regional Skills Partnerships and information directly gained from employers. For example, last year we consulted with employers formally on our investment priorities for apprenticeships.
7. What are the priorities for the Welsh Government apprenticeship delivery?
Delivering our commitment for a minimum of 100,000 quality all age apprenticeships – enabling many more employers to get involved.
- Increasing the number of higher apprenticeships and piloting degree apprenticeships particularly in science, technology, engineering and professional routes – to better meet the needs of the economy.
- Improving apprenticeship credibility and integration into the education system to get more school leavers (16-19) to join the programme.
- Revising systems to develop framework learning content – to be more responsive to often rapidly changing employer needs.
- Developing opportunities, such as the Regional Skills Partnerships to enable all stakeholders to work together to create a stronger sustainable intelligence led system.
- Maintaining completion rates at over 80% and introducing additional measures of quality such as destination data which will look at future earnings and other benefits.
8. How will the Levy impact on employers with a cross border workforce?
Irrespective of where the apprentice lives, or where the employer is based, Welsh Government funding and priorities apply where an apprentice is working in Wales for 51% or more of his/her time:
- EMPLOYER TOOLKIT
- e-mail: DFES-ApprenticeshipUnit@gov.wales
Irrespective of where the apprentice lives, the funding/voucher arrangements and priorities of the UK Government apply where an apprentice is working in England for 50% or more of his/her time:- call the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on 08000 150 600 - visit:
9. How can I get involved in the Apprenticeship Programme in Wales?
For employers wanting to benefit from Wales’ Apprenticeship Programme, contact the Welsh Government‘s Business Wales Skills Gateway: 03000 6 03000
If you have specific questions about your apprenticeship training requirements or the Levy, you can obtain advice from the Welsh Government Apprenticeship Unit:
For more information on England’s Apprenticeship Programme, contact the UK Government’s Department for Education:
10. What is the Skills Gateway?
The Skills Gateway delivers an engagement, assessment and referral system that provides a seamless service for businesses and individuals seeking skills support in Wales. It underpins the delivery of, and provides the access point to, the wider integrated portfolio of employment and skills provision in Wales.
The Skills Gateway is aimed at employers who are looking to recruit to and/or up-skill their existing workforce and individuals who are unemployed, work ready and wish to enhance their employment prospects.
11. How can I engage with the Regional Skills Partnerships?
Regional skills delivery is a key policy focus going forward and is part of a growing agenda set against a context of a strengthened UK Government-driven, regionally focused skills landscape, involving Enterprise Zones, City Region deals and Growth Bids.
In Wales, the ambition is to stimulate employment and skills activity by encouraging skills providers to link their delivery and funding plans to opportunities created by strategic investments and business growth in their regions.
The three Regional Skills Partnerships (RSPs) in North, South West and Mid and South East Wales are well established, with recognised structures and productive relationships across employers and key stakeholders within their respective regions. The Regional Skills Partnerships are:
Cardiff Capital Region Skills Partnerships (CCRSP)
For more information on apprenticeships – click here:
For employers wishing to review and search for an available apprenticeship framework – click here: Priority Sectors and Frameworks.
If you have specific questions about the Levy or any additional Apprenticeship training requirements, email the Welsh Government Apprenticeship Unit: