How to up-skill your tech team cost effectively


78% of tech employees claim their reason for leaving their business is due to a lack of career development. Here we show you how you can keep your best tech employees by making use of your levy funds. 


With Amazon spending over $700 million on tech training for their warehouse staff, investing in tech skills is growing on the list of priorities for businesses. But with typically minimal training budgets, you have to be efficient with the resources you have.

Tech training varies, from free YouTube tutorials to industry certifications. The most effective tend to be the traditional, classroom-based certifications. That can be costly, but it doesn’t need to be. These certifications can be funded with a levy completed through an apprenticeship.

Maximise your tech training budget using the Apprenticeship Levy

If your business is an Apprenticeship Levy payer, you have a siphoned portion of funds dedicated to training. If you up-skill existing staff using apprenticeships, it comes at no additional cost, and if you hire in apprentices, all you need to pay is their salary. Most apprenticeships include an expensive, credible industry qualification (from vendors like CompTIA, ISTQB and BCS) that comes as part of the apprenticeship.

‘But what if we train them and they move on?’ It’s a valid concern. In ISL Recruitment’s Retention Report, they found that 78% of tech employees said their reason for wanting to leave their current company was a lack of career progression. With the projected cost of replacing an employee being £30,000, retaining your team is key in being cost-effective. 

However, apprentices tend to have higher retention rates than a typical employee. They even have a net positive effect on improving a workforce’s overall retention. That means apprenticeships have the potential to play a significant role in reducing the overall costs of your teams.

Provide tech employees with a career path

When so many tech employees quote a lack of progression as the main reason for leaving, investing in your tech team’s career development is essential. But with the number of IT certifications available, you may be concerned that having a structured development path for each employee could get expensive.

However, there are twenty digital & IT apprenticeship programmes available, from entry-level to masters. So, you can use your Apprenticeship Levy funds to develop a career path for your tech team, whatever their starting point.

Hire in your first-line support engineers as Infrastructure Technician apprentices to give them exposure to a variety of tech disciplines. Once they’ve found their specialism, offer support by up-skilling them into their desired role through advanced higher-level apprenticeships. Soon you’ll see your entry-level talent rise through the ranks and take up your hard-to-fill vacancies. 

Ensure entry-level tech employees quickly gain competency

With an apprenticeship usually lasting at least 15 months, the investment required from both the learner and their line manager results in a much higher success rate when compared to a standard course. Apprentices spend over a year working towards becoming competent in a specific occupation, resulting in them developing an in-depth knowledge of the role and industry.

The on-the-job training element of apprenticeships leads to learners developing a skill-set that’s tailored to the needs of their team and allows them to begin making an impact on the business immediately. An apprenticeship will turn a young person with no IT experience into a competent IT professional within a few months. 

“Apprentices learn fast and we have been able to develop our best ones from simple desktop support tasks through to project work and looking after teams of people over the course of a few months.”

David Abensour, Chief Technology Officer at Blenheim Chalcot

Levy funds expire – use them before it’s too late

As you have two years to spend your levy funds, if you received them in 2018, they will be expiring next year. With training budgets being sparse, make use of your levy funds before they’re returned to government.  Avoid wasting money on privately funded qualifications that could be provided through an apprenticeship. 

Digital apprenticeships are your opportunity to build a tech team that has been professionally trained for their role. They will grow from first-line support apprentices to developers, engineers and analysts that know your business best. 

Imagine the scene – your tech apprentices rise through the ranks quickly and soon become managers of their own apprentices. Your retention rate becomes one of the highest in the business, and you save on recruitment and on-boarding costs. Sounds like a good place to be!

Apprenticeships are more than a nice to have. They have the potential to transform your tech team.

Don’t forget: If you’ve hired new apprentices since August 1 of this year, or are planning to do so before January 31 of 2021, you can still apply. You just need to add those apprentices to your service account first. Click here to apply, and make sure you have both your bank account information and your new apprentice’s details at the ready.

Stephanie Khan

Posted December 15, 2020