46 CORPORATE VISION / May 2017 , On 6 April 2017, the UK’s first ever Apprenticeship Levy officially came into force, meaning 22,000 businesses will be liable to pay 0.5%of their annual wage bill into the fund. Andy Donnell, groupmanaging director, ABMUK tells us more. The Apprenticeship Levy - a Challenge or an Opportunity? The Levy is aiming to generate £3 billion per year, with the ambition to train three million people across all private and public sector businesses by 2020. While it feels like good news for employees; a third (33%) of UK businesses say they’re confused about the implications of the Levy, and nearly a quarter (23%) of those heading-up apprenticeships are not even aware of it. “In my mind, there’s a myth surrounding the Apprenticeship Levy. When it was first announced, there was a widespread misconception that the money which companies pay would just be funding new apprentices, and new jobs. On the back of this, there was a fear that at the end of these apprenticeships, there wouldn’t be guaranteed job opportunities and long-term careers. In reality, as well as creating new opportunities for people outside of the business, the Apprenticeship Levy will fund existing employees’ training. The benefit of this is that people will progress their careers faster, leaving more opportunity for others. For me this was not communicated as well as it could have been by the Government, to businesses. At ABM UK, we don’t see the Apprenticeship Levy as a challenge; we see it as a great opportunity to develop people. In a way, we already feel one step ahead, as the training infrastructure we currently have in place is well established. We invested in opening a new £120,000 state-of-the- art employee training centre over a year ago in Greenford, Middlesex, where we deliver our company-wide training programme. The centre of excellence focusses on practical training and gives students hands-on experience across a possible six specialities including electrical, plumbing, refrigeration, lighting, combustion and Building Management System (BMS) controls. Implementing a new scheme will of course take investment from a financial and resource perspective, but with training already such a big part of the company culture, the demands of the Apprenticeship Levy feel like a natural extension to what we’re already providing for our staff. For the FM industry as a whole, we believe that the Levy will be good for business. We see it as a real chance to balance the training equilibrium with people at every level. It will give businesses the opportunity to invest in some of the people who historically haven’t been invested in; to upskill and develop their talents and teach them new skills and knowledge. As a company with a wage bill of over £3m per year, we have to pay the Apprenticeship Levy. We’re determined to turn that obligation into something that positively benefits our people and the business as well as bringing new talent into the facilities management industry. We’ve appointed Jigsaw Training as our official training provider and with over 5,500 staff in the UK, we aim to offer approximately 120 apprenticeships in year one. ABM UK already has a successful technical apprenticeship programme in place delivering Heating & Ventilation, Electrical and Plumbing frameworks, this will continue to develop and expand to offer young people opportunities to start their careers and gain a trade in the FM sector. As well as this we are planning to expand the programme to offer Facilities Management and Cleaning & Environmental Supervision Apprenticeships at advanced level. This programme will support us in developing our managers of the future and as they progress through our talent pipeline thus creating opportunities for others to follow. For me, it’s essential that we continue the programmes we have in place so that we can offer our clients the service they demand. We plan to use the Levy to support and enhance the work that is already being done to grow the business and develop our leaders and specialists of the future. I came into this industry as an apprentice electrician myself and have always valued and championed apprentices. That’s partly why, separately from the Apprenticeship Levy, I think that the Facilities Management industry needs to work harder to attract young talent. The careers that facilities management offers, like engineering, have an image problem that needs to change. I’d love to see more businesses championing apprenticeships in these fields, and taking proactive steps to positively change the perception of jobs in the engineering sector.” SIGN OFF: ABM UK employs just over 5,500 people with comprehensive capabilities including cleaning, electrical & lighting, energy solutions, facilities engineering, HVAC & mechanical, landscape & turf, mission critical solutions and parking, provided through stand- alone or integrated solutions. Background information – what you need to know: • The Apprenticeship Levy is a tax on employers, which will fund apprenticeships and training. • The Levy aims to address the worsening skills gaps in the UK workforce.