In May 2017, Aspens Services Ltd, an innovative and growing catering services provider, began paying the apprenticeship levy at approximately £10,000 per month against a headcount of around 1700 employees, based nationally. The majority of Aspens staff are on permanent or fixed term roles working in customer facing (hospitality/catering) roles primarily, on approximately 38-42 weeks per year and on average 30 hours per week. The business delivers onsite catering and hospitality services to the schools sector, with over 300 clients since its inception in 2008. The remaining roles are the senior leaders, regional managers and support roles / staff based either at HQ in Worcestershire or nationally.
Aspens were keen to utilise their levy payments to deliver apprenticeship training using their own resources (staff) in lieu of external apprenticeship training providers. The business had always delivered in-house training, through Learning & Development Manager, Sue Roe who is passionate about developing staff skills. The addition of the apprenticeship levy posed a new challenge however of ‘ring-fencing’ monies for learning interventions that can only be redeemed against apprenticeship training and assessment, via external training providers or through internal delivery, as an Employer-Provider.
Research undertaken by Sue Roe revealed that there is limited information about how to set up as an Employer-Provider, what actions need to be taken in order to achieve Employer-Provider status and what is involved. After talking to a wide range of consultancy organisations, the Aspens leadership team decided to engage Independent Training and Skills Services Ltd (ITSS) on a long-term contract to help them develop the infrastructure and systems required in order to successfully establish themselves as Apprenticeship Employer-Providers. Utilising its unique Spectrum-39 implimentation model, ITSS worked closely with Aspens to embed Apprenticeship programmes management and delivery expertise within the organisation.
Here is what happened: