UK’s first payroll apprenticeship is approved UK’s first payroll apprenticeship is approved

UK’s first payroll apprenticeship is approved
25 Apr 2018

On 2 March 2018, the standard for the UK’s first Payroll Administrator Apprenticeship received approval from the Institute for Apprenticeships (IFA) Board and is now available on its website.

As previously revealed, the Level 3 Apprenticeship has been under development by a Trailblazer group, which is chaired by myself, for the last year and is aimed at apprentices who spend at least 50% of their time working in England. As skills are a devolved policy, it might also be useful to take a look at the Gov.UK website for information about apprentices in the other countries that make up the UK.

The Standard

The Standard is a high-level overview document detailing what apprentices will be able to do on successful completion of their payroll qualification.

The Assessment Plan

An approved apprenticeship scheme must also include an Assessment Plan. The Plan expands on the high-level overview provided by the Standard and breaks the different elements down into specific learning outcomes. It also tells the independent assessment organisation that awards the apprenticeship qualification how these learning outcomes will be assessed.

The IFA Board has just confirmed that that the Plan has been approved, subject to a few tweaks here and there. At this point, service providers will be able to deliver the apprenticeship.

The IFA has also confirmed the maximum Funding Band will be a nine (£9,000). This figure is the maximum amount of funds that an employer can use to pay for apprenticeship training. It should not be regarded as a funding rate, and employers would be advised to negotiate with providers to agree suitable apprenticeship delivery options below this band maximum where possible.

So let’s take a moment to celebrate. After the withdrawal of so many employer-designed Specification of Apprenticeship Standards for England lately, we will soon have an employer-led Trailblazer Standard and Assessment Plan that adheres to strict guidelines. These will lead to the provision of a recognised payroll qualification that has been developed by the payroll profession specifically for the payroll profession.

It is also time to say a sincere thank you to all members of the Trailblazer group who have worked together for the benefit of the payroll profession. More thanks is likewise due to the apprenticeship training providers who supplied the necessary delivery quotes to challenge the initial Funding Band that the Apprenticeship was given.

Next steps

Having an approved Standard and Assessment Plan in place will not in and of itself lead to industry transformation by providing a recognised payroll qualification to encourage new people into the profession and upskill existing ones. To make that a reality, two key groups need to get involved:

Apprenticeship training providers

Both current and prospective apprenticeship training providers have shown a lot of interest so far and we have worked together to ensure they are best-placed to deliver the qualification. Because the apprenticeship will be live in a few weeks, the time is now right to fully develop offerings and start advertising them.

Employers

There has also been significant interest from a great many employers waiting for the apprenticeship to be finalised, which provides confidence that both they and their staff understand it is a recognised professional qualification and will use it.

As previously mentioned, it is an employer-led rather employer-designed apprenticeship, which means that it has been put together by individuals who know what is suitable for a professional at this level. Other key considerations include the fact that:

  • It will result in a valid qualification for the payroll profession that can be used to hire new employees into the profession or upskill existing staff;
  • The apprenticeship scheme does not just apply to employers that pay the Apprenticeship Levy – see Gov.UK guidance ‘Apprenticeship funding: how it works’;
  • Once the Assessment Plan is published, it makes sense for employers to look closely at the learning outcomes provided to consider which ones are most suited to their internal training purposes. For example, the section on business and customer awareness is probably not appropriate for external training providers as it requires organisation-specific training.

It is also important that employers:

  • Carefully compare the learning outcomes in the Assessment Plan to the actual training provided to ensure there are no knowledge gaps that could lead to their apprentices failing;
  • Ensure their providers have a track record of apprenticeship training provision and are included in the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP);
  • Know their providers will assess their apprentices during the learning stage, which is called On-Programme, as there is little point delivering training if continual assessment does not take place;
  • Are aware how the apprenticeship will actually be delivered. It seems likely that the most successful training will take the form of ‘blended learning’ ie a mix of face-to-face, online, course material, self-study and the like;
  • Understand how their apprentices will be mentored during the On-Programme. Training may be delivered and assessed, but apprentices also need to receive constant feedback on their progress.

The approach outlined is a new way of providing apprenticeship training. It is based on what the Trailblazer group considers is appropriate for the profession and should, therefore, result in more competent and qualified UK payroll professionals in future.

 Ian Holloway

Ian Holloway is head of legislation and compliance at Cintra HR and Payroll Services. He has been in the payroll profession for over 30 years, processing payrolls large and small from organisations across all sectors until 2011 when he started helping to educate the profession by means of course material, newsletters and face-to-face presentations.

 

 

On 2 March 2018, the standard for the UK’s first Payroll Administrator Apprenticeship received approval from the Institute for Apprenticeships (IFA) Board and is now available on its website.

As previously revealed, the Level 3 Apprenticeship has been under development by a Trailblazer group, which is chaired by myself, for the last year and is aimed at apprentices who spend at least 50% of their time working in England. As skills are a devolved policy, it might also be useful to take a look at the Gov.UK website for information about apprentices in the other countries that make up the UK.

The Standard

The Standard is a high-level overview document detailing what apprentices will be able to do on successful completion of their payroll qualification.

The Assessment Plan

An approved apprenticeship scheme must also include an Assessment Plan. The Plan expands on the high-level overview provided by the Standard and breaks the different elements down into specific learning outcomes. It also tells the independent assessment organisation that awards the apprenticeship qualification how these learning outcomes will be assessed.

The IFA Board has just confirmed that that the Plan has been approved, subject to a few tweaks here and there. At this point, service providers will be able to deliver the apprenticeship.

The IFA has also confirmed the maximum Funding Band will be a nine (£9,000). This figure is the maximum amount of funds that an employer can use to pay for apprenticeship training. It should not be regarded as a funding rate, and employers would be advised to negotiate with providers to agree suitable apprenticeship delivery options below this band maximum where possible.

So let’s take a moment to celebrate. After the withdrawal of so many employer-designed Specification of Apprenticeship Standards for England lately, we will soon have an employer-led Trailblazer Standard and Assessment Plan that adheres to strict guidelines. These will lead to the provision of a recognised payroll qualification that has been developed by the payroll profession specifically for the payroll profession.

It is also time to say a sincere thank you to all members of the Trailblazer group who have worked together for the benefit of the payroll profession. More thanks is likewise due to the apprenticeship training providers who supplied the necessary delivery quotes to challenge the initial Funding Band that the Apprenticeship was given.

Next steps

Having an approved Standard and Assessment Plan in place will not in and of itself lead to industry transformation by providing a recognised payroll qualification to encourage new people into the profession and upskill existing ones. To make that a reality, two key groups need to get involved:

Apprenticeship training providers

Both current and prospective apprenticeship training providers have shown a lot of interest so far and we have worked together to ensure they are best-placed to deliver the qualification. Because the apprenticeship will be live in a few weeks, the time is now right to fully develop offerings and start advertising them.

Employers

There has also been significant interest from a great many employers waiting for the apprenticeship to be finalised, which provides confidence that both they and their staff understand it is a recognised professional qualification and will use it.

As previously mentioned, it is an employer-led rather employer-designed apprenticeship, which means that it has been put together by individuals who know what is suitable for a professional at this level. Other key considerations include the fact that:

  • It will result in a valid qualification for the payroll profession that can be used to hire new employees into the profession or upskill existing staff;
  • The apprenticeship scheme does not just apply to employers that pay the Apprenticeship Levy – see Gov.UK guidance ‘Apprenticeship funding: how it works’;
  • Once the Assessment Plan is published, it makes sense for employers to look closely at the learning outcomes provided to consider which ones are most suited to their internal training purposes. For example, the section on business and customer awareness is probably not appropriate for external training providers as it requires organisation-specific training.

It is also important that employers:

  • Carefully compare the learning outcomes in the Assessment Plan to the actual training provided to ensure there are no knowledge gaps that could lead to their apprentices failing;
  • Ensure their providers have a track record of apprenticeship training provision and are included in the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP);
  • Know their providers will assess their apprentices during the learning stage, which is called On-Programme, as there is little point delivering training if continual assessment does not take place;
  • Are aware how the apprenticeship will actually be delivered. It seems likely that the most successful training will take the form of ‘blended learning’ ie a mix of face-to-face, online, course material, self-study and the like;
  • Understand how their apprentices will be mentored during the On-Programme. Training may be delivered and assessed, but apprentices also need to receive constant feedback on their progress.

The approach outlined is a new way of providing apprenticeship training. It is based on what the Trailblazer group considers is appropriate for the profession and should, therefore, result in more competent and qualified UK payroll professionals in future.

 Ian Holloway

Ian Holloway is head of legislation and compliance at Cintra HR and Payroll Services. He has been in the payroll profession for over 30 years, processing payrolls large and small from organisations across all sectors until 2011 when he started helping to educate the profession by means of course material, newsletters and face-to-face presentations.