Data Analytics

CDOs: Are you leveraging your Apprenticeship Levy to achieve data literacy?

04 February 2021 by Heidi Marshall

Company-wide data literacy is a critical – often overlooked – component of any digital transformation strategy. Does finding the resources to train hundreds of employees in essential data analytics skills seem like a pipedream?

Using your organisation’s Apprenticeship Levy could be the answer. 

Chief Data and Analytics Officers at some of the UK’s largest employers are working with their L&D colleagues to build highly effective data skills academies, fully funded by the Apprenticeship Levy.

In this article, we take a look at what constitutes an apprenticeship, what funds are available, and tips on how to influence your organisation to invest that money in digital reskilling and upskilling. 

Why are apprenticeships the ideal way to build data literacy? 

An apprentice can be any age, any background and at any level in their career. What makes them an apprentice is that, in addition to working, they are undertaking a recognised package of productivity-enhancing training and accompanying study that gives them new vocational skills that employers recognise as valuable. 

An increasing number of mid-careerexperienced professionals are benefitting from Levy-funded courses, typically lasting 12-18 months, that enable them to learn new business-critical skills to help them navigate the changing demands of their roles and industries. While apprenticeships will continue to be a valuable way to recruit new talent into the business, the average age of a Corndel apprentice is 36 – demonstrating that this is a skills budget that can be used across your existing workforce. 

Alex Armstrong, Data Analytics learnerData Analytics apprentice: Alex Armstrong, Strategic Portfolio Underwriter, LV= General Insurance 

Alex’s role involves working with a number of different sources of data and monitoring standard insurance KPIs such as loss ratios and gross written premiums. “What would have taken a couple of weeks, I can now do instantly. Not only that, but by doing it myself, I have a greater understanding of what the data entails. I can control the variables within the data extraction and re-analyse the new data set." 

How does the Apprenticeship Levy work? 

All employers with a wage bill over £3m pay a 0.5% payroll tax which can only be used to fund apprenticeship training. If this is not spent within 24 months, they lose the cash from their bottom line. In 2019 this amounted to a loss of £120m a month. In 2020 there were 70,847 fewer people starting apprenticeships, but companies were still required to pay into their levy. What now exists is a large, unspent training budget.  

If they use it wisely, employers can create talent development programmes across their businesses which will help to close that persistent productivity gap. This is proving to be particularly valuable in supporting companies close the digital skills gapCompanies who were already optimising their levy have pivoted towards Data Analytics apprenticeships in 2020.  

According to the CBI’s most recent Education and Learning for the Modern World report‘Scope for upskilling is identified as the single biggest opportunity from the Levy across all sizes of business, with four in ten (41%) identifying the chance to develop existing staff.’ 

Why do so many businesses have ‘unspent funds’ in their Apprenticeship Levy accounts? 

Rather shockingly, more than a quarter of firms (26%) are simply absorbing the Levy as a business cost; underspending the funds they are obliged to continue to pay. While a growing number of businesses (28%) have created dedicated teams to deliver apprenticeships, the CBI report finds that ‘businesses are still finding managing the Levy system and navigating its processes to be complex. 

Expert training providers are highly experienced in setting up apprenticeship programmes in a matter of weeks, taking on the heavy lifting around set up and enrolment, guiding L&D teams through the process and supporting learners, their line managers and employers throughout. By partnering with the right provider, the learning can be implemented almost immediately, and the benefits of new skills, knowledge and behaviours cascade through the organisation.   

Can my organisation’s Apprenticeship Levy can be used to build data literacy, at scale? 

Without the skills needed to better understand, interpret and use the data in your business, your digital transformation strategy can only get so far. 

2,371 people started a Data Analytics Apprenticeship in 2019/20 (DFE data 2020), an annual increase of 35%.

CDO/CDAOs should check in with Talent and HR colleagues, asking:

  • Do we provide a streamlined suite of professional development opportunities for employees with different data needs? 

Next steps 

If you are interested in discussing this further with Corndel’s data science experts, do get in touch. We have a proven track record in setting up successful Data Essentials and Data Analytics apprenticeship diplomas for many large companies, including Société Générale, bp, Asda, Capita, The Adecco Group and Johnson Matthey.

We would be delighted to explain how we are helping other large organisations strategically invest their Levy to meet 2021’s digital transformation objectives.

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