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National Apprenticeship Week 2018

We're celebrating National Apprenticeship Week by encouraging members to showcase and celebrate the benefits and achievements of apprentices in their business. 


The Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Guidance Announced

The apprenticeship levy is currently paid by large employers with an annual payroll of at least £3 million and is set 0.5% of gross annual payroll. Non-levy paying employers wanting to invest in apprenticeships are currently required to pay 10% towards the of the cost an apprenticeship, with 90%  paid by the government.

New government guidance means that levy-paying employers can now transfer a proportion of their levy funds to another employer of their choice, including companies within their supply chain. It has been announced there are “no restrictions about who you can transfer funds to”, except that “they have to be registered on the apprenticeship service”. Employers will also be able to transfer their funds to apprenticeship training agencies.

As a levy-paying employer, you’ll initially be able to transfer up to 10% of the annual value of funds entering your apprenticeship service account. There are some initial rules around this transfer of apprenticeship levy funds:

  • If you want to transfer funds, you’ll need to agree what the apprenticeship(s) is that is being funded by a transfer. ​
  • Organisations receiving transferred funds can only use them to pay for training and assessment for apprenticeship standards.
  • Employers can’t use funds to pay for apprenticeship framework training and assessment, only new apprenticeship standards.​
  • Any transfer of levy funds counts as state aid and employers receiving fund should check this doesn’t breach their allowances. ​​

The government will publish further rules around transferring apprenticeship funds and how transferring funds between organisations will work in practice at a later date.

For full current details see

Or watch this quick video


Manchester Digital Software Developer Apprenticeship

Did you know that Manchester Digital runs the only industry-led Level 4 Software Developer apprenticeship in the region? The programme was developed as a direct result of our members’ call to action through our Employers’ Forum.

This apprenticeship is the equivalent of a foundation degree and is designed and delivered by developers working in the industry. We also provide an opportunity for employers who join the programme to input to the design and delivery. This means the content can remain agile and relevant for our employers investing in the programme and the talent pipeline.  

We would like to thank all of our members who continue to support this apprenticeship programme, in particular, those developers who are part of the design, delivery and mentoring team.  

Meet some of our apprentices...


If you want to invest in growing your developer workforce through an apprenticeship, we’d encourage you to invest in this industry-led programme. Email [email protected] and have a chat about how you can develop your business with an apprentice.

Applications are now open for our next apprenticeship intake in September. We will be running assessment and selection days throughout the summer. Register your interest here or contact  [email protected]



Apprentice at work 


This year our Skills Audit told us that 3 in 4 businesses employ an apprentice and 27% run their own apprenticeship entry scheme. While we know that more needs to be done to encourage an increase in apprenticeships in the sector, we also know that there are many excellent examples where apprentices are thriving and making a real difference as part of the workforce, so we asked some members to help us celebrate and showcase their apprentices.


Web Applications UK

“Every year we take on around 20 placement students, including those working over the Summer period and those taking a year out of their University degree. However, we also take on apprentices who are studying towards a relevant degree and want to gain experience in their chosen industry.” One of Web Applications UK’s apprentices Dominique Ward-Marsh said in their latest blog: “I don’t get treated like an apprentice; I’m treated like a normal full-time employee. I’ve learnt how to work with customers, the systems, and there’s a strong emphasis on ‘one job, many roles’. I’m not just a Junior Project Manager; I’m a Business Analyst, Account Manager, the list goes on.”​ Read the full blog post here.

Red Eye

We have seven apprentices at Level 3, Level 4 and Degree Level. And we have a further eight who now have permanent roles after completing their programme. Our apprentices work on coding our product making sure it’s the best in the marketplace, or in our client facing teams supporting their multichannel campaigns. Our apprenticeship schemes look to help address the skills shortages in tech and digital over the long-term. We often find that apprentices outperform university graduates in terms of their mature work ethic, and their ability to come up with fresh ideas and add value quickly. Since our first apprentice joined the team back in October 2015, the contribution they have made is substantial and there are tangible outputs we can directly attribute to our apprentices.


Take a look at our apprenticeship video here.


Why do we invest in apprenticeships?

  • Creating a talent pipeline: As with many businesses in our sector, there are challenges in terms of skills. There are only a certain number of people available to do the jobs we need so apprentices form an important part in our talent pipeline process.
  • Keeping up to date with the latest technology: Technology is at the heart of everything we do at RedEye. It’s constantly changing, and new technologies are continually being released. Our apprentices are keen to try out the latest technologies, typically before anyone else, so we have found that to be a positive contribution.
  • ​Developing skills internally: Through hiring apprentices and developing our internal teams, we’ve been able to cut our use of outsourced development services.
  • Management development opportunities: Apprentices have given our managers the opportunity to mentor and grow people in their teams they may not have ordinarily had. As an ILM accredited centre, we have invested heavily in our managers' development over the last few years to support this. We are also now developing our aspiring managers, who are mentoring and supporting our apprentices, providing them with opportunities to utilise their new skills.
  • Upskilling existing employees: The changes to the apprenticeships scheme and new levy funding enabled us to use the levy funds to upskill six existing employees, by completing a business improvement apprenticeship, an opportunity that ordinarily wouldn’t have been available.​​


Fast Web Media

“We here at Fast Web Media are proud of our long history of taking on apprentices and we’re delighted to have given a number of young people their first steps in their career. We’ve teamed up with the University of Salford to take on student developers and have worked with companies around Manchester to take on apprentices in our Marketing and Account Management departments.

As far as we’re concerned, this is a critical part of our role in the digital marketing sector. After all, marketing is all about building connections with people and understanding what makes them tick, and that means stepping outside of what you know and seeing things from a fresh perspective.

One of our apprentices, Jack Hirst, was brought on board when he was just 18, and his line manager at the time was our current Digital Marketing Manager, Paul Bullock, who was delighted to hear Jack’s new insight into our long-standing accounts. “Jack was a real breath of fresh air,” Paul said. “The great thing about getting in someone so young is their fearlessness. People at that age aren’t scared of taking risks and saying what they think. That kind of input is vital as it keeps the older members of staff alert to new things.”

At the end of his apprenticeship, Jack was offered a full-time role as an Account Executive, and he’s still with us today. As we’ve evolved, so too has he, learning about search engine optimisation, Google Analytics and email marketing amongst a multitude of other skills. “Working at Fast Web is brilliant,” he said. “I’ve learned a huge amount during my time with the company and I’m still learning now. That’s the great thing about the digital sector: it’s always changing and there’s always something new to tackle.”

More recently, our marketing team took on Ricky Jennings, who started with the company in January 2017. After completing his year-long placement, we were delighted to take Ricky on as a full-time member of staff in his new role as a Digital Sales and Marketing Executive. Ricky loves doing creative and cool things online and latched on to digital marketing as a way to express himself through his social media. Knowing his Twitters from his Tumblrs proved particularly important during our Esports Guide campaign when he ran our social activities and drove significant awareness of and engagement with our work.


Along with learning the trade, learning about yourself is a key part of any apprenticeship, and this is something Ricky relished. “Being told how to deal with my mistakes and how to convert them into something positive instead of dwelling certainly helped me throughout my apprenticeship,” he said. “Learning from my mistakes has made me the person I am today and has shaped my work ethic and attitude to work.”


Our commitment to apprenticeships and learning schemes remains a key part of Fast Web Media, and recently we took on two young people studying at [email protected] who are Junior Managers for a grassroots esports organisation called XII which is designed to give young people a headstart on their careers through esports and event management. Amy and John came onboard for a week in February 2018, attending meetings, taking part in brainstorms and generally soaking in the atmosphere of a busy digital marketing agency. We were hugely impressed by their dedication and intelligence and learned a lot from them about the esports demographic that we target through our work.

Ultimately, apprenticeships are an invaluable part of Britain’s professional sphere, giving employers access to emerging new talent and school-leavers critical experience. As Ricky explains: “Apprenticeships are an amazing alternative to university, which isn’t always a viable option for everyone due to rising tuition fees along with the cost of living, on no income. “Being able to earn your own money through working and learning each day gives you an enormous sense of satisfaction and I believe it is the most beneficial method of learning because you are applying yourself to real-life situations on a daily basis.”

“We decided we needed more control over the data gathering elements of the outreach services we offer - especially with GDPR deadlines on the horizon. Work that was previously completed by our overseas back office teams has been brought back to the UK office and given to 2 apprentices we hired for this task. We are getting more output from 2 UK based apprentices than we were from 4 remote workers. And all for a very similar cost. There are some talented young peopled in the apprentice pool!” Gareth Hoyle, Marketing Director at Marketing Signals.


Ixis IT Limited Josh Woods, a 20-year-old apprentice from Warrington making waves at digital agency Ixis. Josh began his time with Ixis at the young age of 16, initially completing a diploma in ICT systems and principles. Wanting to progress, Josh decided, along with the support of his family and Ixis, that continuing his education was the way forward so he enrolled on another apprenticeship, this time collecting a diploma in Professional Competence for IT and Telecoms Professionals. Not content with stopping there, we fast forward to the present day and Josh is currently studying to complete his Level 4 Software Developer apprenticeship. Josh originally joined the Ixis Support team but due to his continued growth and attitude to learning he has since moved onto the Development team. Whilst, furthering his education has remained a key component in Josh’s development, he has also found the time to work on an internal Ixis project, the Ixis software Samurai, which enabled Ixis to cut down on the time consuming and repetitive tasks that were better suited to automation to avoid human error. “I would recommend an apprenticeship, but only if you are really committed, have a passion for your job and want to learn. It is rewarding but it takes a certain way of thinking.” Josh Woods, Developer at Ixis.  It is clear for all to see that Josh has the talent and drive to take him as far as he would like to go in his career and we all look forward to seeing how far he can go. Andrew (Drew) Jones, joined Ixis in October 2017 as a Digital Marketing Apprentice. Working from our base in Manchester, Drew’s primary objective is to increase the Ixis digital presence using a variety of different methods such as the use of social media, writing content for the Ixis blog, assisting with the pay per click ad campaigns and working with external PR agency to hone his skills as a Digital Marketer.

"The benefits of investing in apprenticeships from a business perspective are difficult to overstate. You are able to tailor an educational programme to your business needs, focus on recruiting team members who are a good fit for your organisational culture and develop them in the skill areas that are important to you."Barry Standen, Operations Director at Ixis.