Apprenticeships - New opportunities for the Pensions Profession
There has never been a better time to think about how apprenticeships can work for Pensions Firms, and support the needs of your organisation. The PMI are keen to help employers to do that.
To support apprenticeships for the Pensions Industry, the PMI has been central to some of the exciting new apprenticeship developments in Workplace Pensions. The PMI has worked in collaboration with a number of employers and other professional bodies, as part of ‘trailblazer’ groups to create two new apprenticeships: the entry Level 3 Workplace Pensions Administrator or Consultant apprenticeship and the Higher Level 6 Financial Services Professional apprenticeship, which has a tailored Pensions pathway. As these new apprenticeships are designed by employers and other industry experts you can be confident that they have a great fit for your job roles, providing a new entry route and progression pathways for the profession.
The great news is that both these new apprenticeships include the relevant PMI professional qualifications, so you can use the apprenticeships to deliver the qualifications you need – using apprenticeship funding to pay for those (either from Government or via your apprenticeship Levy).
As well as being the awarding organisation for these aligned qualifications, the PMI are also approved as an end-point assessment organisation for the Workplace Pensions Consultant/Administrator apprenticeship. This adds another dimension of professional standing and rigour to the apprenticeship, and places the PMI in a great position to support your organisation’s apprenticeship journey.
Discover more about the detail of these new apprenticeships and the PMI qualifications included here:
What are apprenticeships?
Simply put apprenticeships are a real job with structured training lasting at least 12 months.
An apprentice is employed like any other member of staff (for at least the duration of their apprenticeship), and is supported and trained by both their employer and an approved apprenticeship training provider.
The introduction of new apprenticeship standards has put employers at the forefront of the design of standards, so new standards are occupationally specific – based on real job roles, and define the minimum knowledge, skills and behaviours required for that occupation. Meaning that apprentices are trained to do the jobs you need them to do. To further add rigour and quality to apprenticeships the apprentice’s competence is tested at the end of their apprenticeship by an independent assessor. For example the PMI is an approved End Point-Assessment organisation for the Workplace Pensions standard.
Apprenticeships are becoming an increasingly popular recruitment strategy – a way of attracting and growing new talent. But employers are also using them as a catalyst to review and re-design their whole workforce development strategy – in many cases driven by the introduction of the apprenticeship levy, or the attraction of government funding. Employers are using apprenticeships not just for attraction, but as a way of developing existing staff – where apprenticeships form part of a tailored career path, ensuring both new and existing staff are equipped with the right knowledge and skills to meet business requirements - addressing skills gaps and other business needs
The benefits for employers are well established:
- 96% of apprentice employers say apprentices are beneficial to their business
- 80% of companies who invest in apprentices report significant increases in employee retention
- 92% of employers believe apprenticeships lead to a more motivated workforce
- 81% of consumers favour a company which takes on apprentices
- 75% of apprentice employers reported improved quality of their product or service
- Apprentice employers report productivity in the workplace has increased by 76%.
Apprenticeships also provide:
- Subsidised training costs – not least off-setting your professional qualifications costs when they are included within the apprenticeship. Apprenticeship allow you to upskill new and existing staff in a cost-effective way
- Better talent attraction – apprenticeships can really support recruitment, and help build your brand to those potential recruits. Increasingly school leavers are looking at apprenticeship programmes rather than further and higher education, in particular where opportunities with an employer include higher level and degree apprenticeships. Apprenticeships provide a really opportunity to boost the profile of Pensions as a career. Already many employers in the financial services industry are using apprenticeships to attract fresh and more diverse talent to their businesses.
What’s right for your business?
So the benefits of apprenticeships are clear, but as an organisation you should think and plan carefully as to why and how to introduce or grow apprenticeships in your business. Apprenticeships require investment and buy-in from within your business, and therefore should be introduced and targeted to address your organisation’s requirements – providing a better ‘case’ for apprenticeships and a greater return on your investment.
So think about what you need to achieve in your organisation – both in terms of broader business aims and workforce development issues, and plan your apprenticeship programme around those.
Consider your organisation’s workforce ‘hot spots’ and target your apprenticeship programme in those areas. For example:
Once you have identified the areas of the business that offer the best potential for apprenticeships come up with a staged plan to implement those. It’s often best to keep it simple initially, perhaps focussing on introducing one or two types of apprenticeships, get those right and then look to expand in other key areas.
It’s really helpful to have a strategic level commitment to the apprenticeship programme – so if you can show the potential returns and link it to business needs this is more likely to happen
Get in touch to discuss how the PMI can help you plan your apprenticeship programme.
Funding an apprenticeship
Apprenticeships can be a cost-effective way of training new and existing staff due to the funding offered by the government. This can include offsetting your current qualification costs.
The introduction of the apprenticeship Levy in 2017 has given firms a strong incentive to use this approach to support their business.
Since April 2017, businesses with a pay bill of over £3million have had to pay an apprenticeship Levy of 0.5% of their UK payroll. Those who pay the levy are able to use the English proportion of the contributions accrued to pay for approved apprenticeships. This is paid via an online account. Levy payers also receive a further 10% government top-up to their own contribution into that account. Levy funds are paid and calculated on a monthly basis. Where there are unspent in an employers apprenticeship account after 24 months they are removed for use elsewhere in the apprenticeship system (i.e. funds entering the account in April 2017 will be available in the account until April 2019)
If you are Levy payer you must ensure you declare your levy contribution via HMRC, and ensure you have registered for your online apprenticeship service ‘account’ so you can access and spend your funds on apprenticeships.
Levy payers can:
- Find out more about the levy and here
- Registering for an apprenticeship service account here
- And learn about how to pay their Levy via HMRC here
Non-levy payers can receive a government contribution of 90% of the cost of the apprenticeship (employers with under 50 staff recruiting a 16-18 apprentice receive 100%). This level of government funding provides a fantastic supported platform to introduce apprenticeships in your business.
For example, if you are looking to provide development opportunities for your Workplace Pensions Administrators or Consultants, progressing them to more senior Pension Consultant or Pensions Manger roles, you could use the Level 6 Financial Services Professional apprenticeship to do that. Government would contribute up to £16,200 to the cost of that apprenticeship, with the cost to the employer of only £1800. This would include delivery of PMI’s Advanced Diploma in Retirement Provision, leading to PMI Associate Membership and APMI designation for that individual.
For both Levy and non-Levy payers, the government will also contribute additional funding in certain circumstances, such as for apprentices aged 16-18 or those who have previously been in care. This involves a further £1000 employer incentive.
Further details on funding can be found here
Pension Specific Apprenticeships:
- Workplace Pensions Apprenticeship – level 3
An entry-level apprenticeship standard for workplace pensions consultants or administrators – the standard has a core and options format allowing you to select the specialist requirements for either Administrators or Consultants. The full details of the standard can be found here. This page also contains a link to the assessment plan for the standard, which provides further detail on how the apprentice will be assessed.
- Financial Services Professional Apprenticeship - level 6
This is a core and options apprenticeship that covers a broad range of occupations within financial services, and workplace pensions is one of 6 specialist options. The Pension option aligns to such roles as Pensions Consultants, Senior Administrators or Pensions Managers. The full details of the standard can be found here.
What PMI qualifications are included as part of these apprenticeships?
These apprenticeship standards include the following PMI qualifications (or parts thereof):
Read more about our apprenticeships here [link to apprenticeship pages from qualifications brochure]
Broader Apprenticeship Opportunities
Whilst the Pensions industry specific standards will be of keen interest to firms, there are also a wide range of other apprenticeships on offer. When considering your business’ requirements and ‘hotspots’ discussed above, you should look right across your organisation, from entry-level roles to senior positions (with apprenticeships spanning from level 2, right the way up to level 7 which is equivalent to a masters). This should include non-core areas of the business - for example there are apprenticeships in HR, Marketing, IT, Finance and Internal Audit, plus generic leadership and management apprenticeships that could span all of those business areas.
Take a look at our ‘apprenticeship map’ - representing the types of apprenticeships that could be relevant to a typical Pensions firm.
A full list of apprenticeship standards are available on the Institute for Apprenticeships website, where you can search by occupational area, key word and level.
Apprenticeship Training providers
You can also use the ‘find apprenticeship training’ service to search for relevant apprenticeships which also provides lists of approved training providers that can support delivery of those apprenticeships
For training providers
If you would like to be added to our list of training providers[, please contact email@example.com.
Further details on the gateway stage (when apprentices progress to the End Point Assessment stage) can be found in the Assessment Plan. When an apprentice reaches the gateway stage an End-point Registration Form should be completed and returned to PMI. To obtain copies please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
We have created a number of assessment tools and guidance to assist those preparing for End-point Assessment and they can be found at the bottom of this page.
Workplace Pensions Apprenticeship Standard
Workplace Pensions Trailblazer Apprenticeship Standard
Workplace Pensions Apprenticeship Assessment Plan
Workplace Pensions Trailblazer Apprenticeship Assessment Plan
Financial Services Professional Apprenticeship Standard
Financial Services Professional Apprenticeship Standard