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Levy Leaders: How Softcat Makes Apprenticeships Work

Apprenticeships in the UK

Are you looking to learn how to make the most of the Apprenticeship Levy?

We spoke to Laura Sneath, Apprentice Programme Lead at Softcat, which was the Gold Winner of the Learning & Performance Institute's 2017 Award for Apprenticeship Programme of the Year, to see how the company has successfully utilised the Levy to strengthen its apprenticeship programmes.

What is your apprenticeships strategy at the moment and how will that develop?

Softcat is growing apprenticeships within the sales function allowing us to sell into previously untapped markets. We are implementing apprenticeships into other Softcat departments and roles such as cyber security, finance and recruitment, also on the relevant standards for these roles.

In addition, we are piloting a new IT technical sales person standard which Softcat helped to develop, and launching level 4 apprenticeships in technical disciplines such as software development.

We plan to continue using standards moving forward, and to grow and embed apprenticeships across all areas and departments within the business.

How have you made the levy work for Softcat?

We already had a secure programme enrolling 20-30 apprenticeships per year which are now being funded through the levy. Fortunately this does leave remaining funds which has encouraged more managers to offer apprenticeships and additional training to support this within their teams. This continues to be explored further.

What percentage of existing staff are being promoted or moving into apprenticeship positions and how many are new?

Currently 100% of our apprenticeships are new recruits. We are currently exploring using apprenticeships to upskill existing staff where relevant.

How are you making the 20% off-the-job policy work for you?

Our apprentice programme pre-levy was already very training intensive and this was fully supported by management. The apprentices are measured internally not only on their performance in their roles but also on completing off the job training and their commitment to this element of their apprenticeship.

What have you found challenging about implementing apprenticeship programmes? How are you overcoming those challenges?

A challenge we have had since the beginning has been recruitment and attracting the right talent for our business. We have addressed this by increasing our engagement with specific local Further Education institutes and have benefited from positive PR following our award success over the last two years.

What advice would you give to companies trying to implement a successful apprenticeship strategy?

Ensure that the initiative has full buy-in from all senior stakeholders including top level management. You also need to ensure that the qualification is relevant to the role the apprentice is doing to help embed learning in the workplace as well as the classroom. It's important to have a passionate, supportive and focused team internally to enhance the apprentices’ development.

Laura Sneath

About Laura Sneath

Laura is the Apprentice Programme Lead at Softcat which was the Gold Winner of the Learning & Performance Institute's 2017 Award for Apprenticeship Programme of the Year.

About Softcat

Softcat is a leading provider of IT infrastructure with 6 UK offices and 1000 employees. Softcat has on-boarded 85 talented apprentices in IT Professional, Technical Salesperson and Business Administration since 2014.

Our apprentices continue to exceed expectations and excel in their field, raising the bar for future talent. Our dynamic learning environment enables apprentices to thrive in multiple disciplines, with 90% of apprentices graduating into permanent roles. The technical sales qualification enhances the skillset of our already strong sales force.

This interview is part of the U.K. L&D Report 2018.

Download the full report below:

L&D report

What's included?

  • The employee training budgets, training topics, and training methods of organisations in 2018.

  • Practical advice from L&D leaders to help you adopt new technologies, nurture a learning culture, get the most from the apprenticeship levy and measure and promote the value of workplace learning.

  • How learning professionals rate the executive engagement in learning, assess the impact of training and more!

U.K. L&D Report: 2018
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Last updated: 18 Jun 2018

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