Employers

Information for Current Employers

Below you will find a variety of questions, information and documents that should be helpful for our existing employers.

Looking for apprenticeship providers from 2018? Step Forward is no longer accepting applications for future cohorts. Please download our fact sheet to signpost you to other organisations. If you want detailed information on the apprenticeship levy and the Digital Account System visit our dedicated page.

FAQs | Year Planner | Key Contacts | End Point Assessments | Disciplinary Process |
Code of Conduct | Handbooks | Other Organisations

FAQs

All your most asked questions are below. Jump to these sections:

Finance / Compliance
Course Information
General / Miscellaneous

Finance / Compliance

The Apprenticeship Levy

What is the apprenticeship levy? How do I know if I am levy or not?

Please see our Step Forward Guide to the Apprenticeship Levy & Funding. This provides you information about what the levy is, how co-investment works, and the step by step guide.

I qualify for the apprenticeship levy – how much do I pay?     

The payment required has been confirmed in your contract and is made up of your levy contribution (funding band), confirmed through your Digital Account System, and your Step Forward fee, invoiced to your organisation directly.

I’m not paying levy – how much do I pay?

Your payment is made up of the Step Forward fee and your 10% training contribution. Both payments will be issued in one invoice to your organisation.

How do I set up my Digital Account System (DAS)?

If you are an apprenticeship levy payer please set up your Digital Account System to pay for apprenticeship training. Sign in or register here to access the money you’ve paid under the apprenticeship levy and pay for apprenticeship training.

After you are logged in you will need the following information:

  • The Challenge’s UK Provider Reference Number: 10041031.
  • Registered provider name: The Challenge Network
  • Apprentice’s name(s)

After you have selected The Challenge Network please choose the option ‘I would like my provider to add apprentices’. From here we will input all the details of your apprentice’s name(s), personal information, course start date, payment amount and schedule. This will then be made available for you to approve before any payments occur.

There is a more detailed step by step video available here. As we will be inputting the information for you the first 5 minutes are most helpful for you and the final 4 minutes if you would like a snapshot of what it will look like when your apprentice(s) are in place.

After we have added the information you will receive notification to approve this. After this is approved your apprentice is set up!

My apprentice has left – do I have to do anything to get my money back?

You will need to cancel the payment set up on your levy account. There is more detail on the funding rules found here.

Our levy pot has ran out. What now?

When your levy pot is exhausted and a monthly payment is not made then we (The Challenge) will be made ware of this. You then move to the co-investment model (more detail below) and will be invoiced the 10% training fee for the month your levy pot does not cover it. For example, if the cost is £1000 for that month you will receive a £100 invoice for that month’s payment and the government contribute the remaining 90% funds. More detail can be found about co-investment here.

What if I go over our cap?

You are able to fund over the government funding bands (found here) however this will not be covered by your levy pot and will be set up directly with your training provider.

Are a subsidiary treated separately or part of parent group?

Please look at the government information link for further information about connected companies.

Can wages be paid from the levy pot?

You can only use funds in your account to pay for apprenticeship training and assessment for apprentices that work at least 50% of the time in England, and only up to the funding band maximum for that apprenticeship.  If the costs of training and assessment go over the funding band maximum, you will need to pay the difference with other funds from your own budget.

You can’t use funds in your account to pay for other costs associated with your apprentices (such as wages, statutory licences to practise, travel and subsidiary costs, work placement programmes or the setting up of an apprenticeship programme).

Read the apprenticeship funding rules for full details of what you can and can’t pay for with funds from your apprenticeship service account.

Can Step Forward fees be paid from the levy pot?

You can only use funds in your account to pay for apprenticeship training and assessment for apprentices that work at least 50% of the time in England, and only up to the funding band maximum for that apprenticeship.  If the costs of training and assessment go over the funding band maximum, you will need to pay the difference with other funds from your own budget.

You can’t use funds in your account to pay for other costs associated with your apprentices (such as wages, statutory licences to practise, travel and subsidiary costs, work placement programmes or the setting up of an apprenticeship programme).

Read the apprenticeship funding rules for full details of what you can and can’t pay for with funds from your apprenticeship service account.

What am I paying a Step Forward fee for?

The Step Forward Fee is separate to the levy training cost for the apprenticeship. The fee is for:

  • The professional development ran throughout the year, including the Step Events
  • The mentoring support provided over the year
  • The candidate recruitment and selection support (including the candidates attraction in schools and online, the employability sessions ran and interview preparation support
  • The offer support through the process)

Our apprentice isn’t doing very well, I don’t want to pay

We’re sorry to hear that your apprentice is not doing well. We’d love to speak to you about this further, please do contact our Employer Coordinator who will be able to organise a call or meeting with the best contact internally if this is not already underway.

We do have a rebate facility in place for the first three months of the programme which would be credited to you where applicable if your apprentice does not continue, however we do require invoices to be paid in line with our 30 day payment terms.

We will continue to work with you to make a successful year for you and your apprentice and this is a huge priority for us for your apprentice to be adding value, making and impact and completing their studies and work to a high standard and meeting your expectations.

I think I should get a higher rebate back then I am owed. What do I do?

Our rebate facility is confirmed in your contract issued at the start of the programme. It is in line with industry standards. Please do confirm if you would like a copy of your contract sent to you where the rebate is included.

My apprentice has left and we’re still receiving invoices – why?

If your outstanding balance has been paid then no further fees will be due. Where the rebate facility has partially or fully passed there will still be the full fee or a proportion of the fee due, in line with the contract signed at the start of the programme.

I pay through the levy, why do I recieve invoices?

The Step Forward Fee is separate to the levy training cost for the apprenticeship and is invoiced to you.

Can our apprentices Step forward fee be billed together?

Yes, please do let us know step.forward@the-challenge.org who to send the invoices too.

Can I have invoices separately?

Yes, please do let us know step.forward@the-challenge.org who to send the invoices too.

Can I pass on my levy funds to another org within our supply chain?

Please look at the government information link for further information about connected companies.

When will I get my outstanding AGE grant payment from 2016 apprentice’s?

Please contact CONEL directly with your query as they are the prime training provider submitting these grants and providing approved payment from Skills Funding Agency. The contact is Nazli Kaygisiz and her email address is NKaygisiz@conel.ac.uk.

Can I claim for an AGE grant for my new apprentice?

The AGE Grant was discontinued for any apprentice starting their course after 31/03/2017. If your new apprentice is under the age of 19 at the time they start their course, you are eligible for a new government grant of £1000. Please see further details on the government website.

Can we negotiate our funding banding for this role?

Your funding banding should already be agreed with your Account Manager. Unfortunately we are not able to offer retrospective discounts and your Digital Apprenticeship Account will be set up to automatically debit the correct amount based on the full cost of the training banding.

Course Information

Where is my course designed from?

All apprentices undertaking their course on the new standards curriculum apart from Business Administration and Early years (who are working off the old apprenticeship frameworks). These are designed by a group of industry professionals called “trailblazers” who were responsible for mapping their training against common workplace demands within each specific industry.  Each apprentice working off the “standards” will be required to p ass an End Point Assessment (EPA) after the programme has completed in order to achieve their apprenticeship. The End Point Assessors carrying out the assessment must be independent of, and separate to, both the training provider and employer to ensure that the decision is totally impartial. Please see our one pager here on the different bodies appointed for this.

Can you supply us with an outline of the training content taught?

We are able to supply an overview of the modules your apprentice will cover throughout their course, however due to the possibility of unforeseen circumstances we are not able to confirm their course content for a specific week or month.

What is an ILP and when is it due to happen?

An ILP is an Individual Learning Plans.  They are arranged with your job coach. Please get in touch with your Tutor / Job Coach to arrange a meeting. They can also give you the course content and criteria for the end point Assessments.

What is End Point Assessment?

As you may be aware all apprentices undertaking their course on the new standards curriculum will be required to pass an End Point Assessment (EPA) after the programme has completed in order to achieve their apprenticeship. The End Point Assessors carrying out the assessment must be independent of, and separate to, both the training provider and employer to ensure that the decision is totally impartial. There is more information below.

Who pays for additional EPA exams re-sits?

Please see information around retakes here.

How many resits can my apprentice do?

Your apprentice can continue to take resits, however this does incur a cost for the employer.  Please see our resit summary here.

What score did my apprentice get in their recent exam?

Your Tutor/Job Coach will be able to provide you with the information about how your apprentice is performing in recent exams and from January 2018 you can have oversight via the online system, OneFile. Please contact us on sf.employers@the-challenge.org for more information.

How is my apprentice performing in the classroom?

Your Tutor / Job Coach will be able to provide you with the information about how your apprentice is performing and from January 2018 you can have oversight via the online system, OneFile. Please contact us on sf.employers@the-challenge.org for more information.

What is a block week of training?

Where an apprentice goes to the training organisation to undertake training on full-time basis for the set duration.

When is a block week of training for my apprentice?

There is the quarterly schedule found on the main webpage which includes block weeks. Do ask your apprentice’s Tutor/Job coach.

My company is really busy and we can’t release them for a block week of training now. What do I do?

We appreciate that there is busy periods that you will have, and we will do our best to accommodate these and release our apprentices from part of the block week. However please be aware that is a contractual requirement for your apprentice to be released for training. We recommend using the schedules on our Employer Hub to help you plan in advance for their absence and do speak to your Tutor/Job Coach or contact us on sf.employers@the-challenge.org for more information.

My apprentice hasn’t been at work – have they been at training?

Our Delivery Coordinator will contact you each time your apprentice fails to attend training. If you have any questions or concerns about the attendance of your apprentice please contact the relevant Tutor or the Delivery Coordinator.

General / Miscellaneous

How do I structure their workplace responsibilities?

You should structure an apprentices workplace responsibility similar to that of other junior hires. The Step Forward Tutor / Job coach is available to provide further guidance on this. We would also encourage you to refer to the Step Forward Employer Handbook which gives great practical advice.

Can I extend the probation period?

If your apprentice is not meeting the standards you expect then we recommend you treat them like any employer and extend their probationary period. We would suggest speaking with the Tutor/Job Coach around this and your expectations of them as they will be able to support you and your apprentice.

Can we have a timetable for the year?

There is the quarterly schedule below which includes a weekly and monthly calendar.

How can we support their development?

The Step Forward Employer Handbook explains how we and you can support your apprentice’s development.

How much should we pay our apprentice?

You must pay your apprentice at least £9,000 as this is the minimum we ask all the employers to pay who are part of the Step Forward program. Further government guidance on apprentice wages can be found here. Please note the Tech industry is highly competitive for talent and so wider consideration should be taken to pay industry attractive apprentice wages. For this we suggest you refer to your normal pay bench-marking sources.

How many days of Annual Leave are apprentices entitled to?

Apprentices must get a minimum of 20 days annual leave each year. See more information here.

Do we pay their travel or does the government?

TFL offers travel subsidies for apprentices. Some businesses may choose to offer additional travel support monies, particularly if their offices location require a long travel distance for the apprentice. This is at the direction of the employer.

What are the Step Events?

A series of exciting and innovative mission focused days for the young people to understand and embrace the social integration mission and values of our charity.

My apprentice is not doing very well at work – what do I do?

Your Tutor/Job Coach will be able to provide you with the information about how you can support your apprentice in the workplace. For more serious situations, we have a code of conduct which is outlined in your employer handbook – this should be followed with the support of your tutor / job coach.

Should I inform you if my apprentice is often absent at work due to illness or other circumstances?

Yes please notify your Tutor/Job coach is this is becoming a regular occurrence and our mentors can work with your apprentice(s) to fix the problem causing lateness or absence. Employers are also encouraged to follow normal workplace procedures as you would for any other other employee displaying similar behaviour.

Who is our main point of contact for questions?

Your Tutor/Job Coach and our Employer Coordinator is here to support you through the year with any questions you may have. Please do contact them directly or feel free to use our Employer Enquiries inbox on sf.employers@the-challenge.org to help any urgent queries you may have.

Year Planner

Here is our guide to the apprentice year until September 2018. The calendar includes exam dates for all pathways, functional ICT and other key dates.

November 17 – January 18
February 18 – April 18
May 18 – July 18
August 18 – September 18

Key Contacts

Job Coach / Tutor

The Tutor/Job Coach will be responsible for providing your apprentice with the specialist skills and knowledge they need to successfully achieve their apprenticeship. They will deliver the regular training and be available to support with assignments and/or exams. They will also be visiting you and your apprentice in your workplace to conduct Progress Review meetings and for some Pathways, they will conduct workplace assessments and observations.

Professional Development Mentor

Each apprentice has an allocated mentor who will be there to provide both professional and personal support and guidance throughout your apprentice’s time on the programme.  You may see them occasionally in the workplace to provide extra support or 1:1 time for your apprentice.

Employer Coordinator

The Employer Coordinator is there to support employers, provide account management and information and communications relating to the course.  

Delivery Team Coordinator

The Delivery Team Coordinator is the main contact for your apprentice to get in touch for administrative purposes.  If they are running late, sick or absent for any other reason they must get in touch.

Learning Support

The Learning Support team are there to support SEND learners.

End Point Assessments

Step Forward has identified suitable End Point Assessing organisations (detailed below) who are registered by the ESFA who we would like to appoint for your apprentice’s EPA:

The attached document lays out all the external assessors we have appointed, plus associated costs.

Disciplinary Process

Download the disciplinary process here.

Code of Conduct

Download the code of conduct here.

Employer Handbook

Download the latest copy of the Employer Handbook here.

Other Organisations

3aaa
Level 3 & 4 apprenticeships in…

  • Management
  • Technology
  • Software Development
  • Digital Marketing
  • Financial Service and Accounting
  • Business Admin

3aa website / 0207 278 0636

City Gateway
Level 2 & 3 apprenticeships in…

  • Customer Service
  • Business Administration

City Gateway website / 0203 727 6300

Hawk Training
Level 2, 3 & 4 apprenticeships in…

  • Childcare
  • Business Administration
  • Customer Service
  • IT

Hawk Training website / 0203 131 6469 / 0208 891 0992

Just IT
Level 3 & 4 apprenticeships in…

  • IT Support and Networking
  • Digital Marketing
  • Software Development

Just IT website / 0207 426 9835
 
QA Apprenticeships
Level 3 & 4 apprenticeships in…

  • IT Technician
  • Software Developer
  • Digital Marketer
  • Business Administration

QA Apprenticeships website / 0345 074 7825

White Hat
Level 2, 3 & 4 apprenticeships in…

  • Business Administration
  • IT
  • Digital Marketing
  • Customer Service
  • Accounting

White Hat websitehello@whitehat.org.uk

Bloomberg

Working with Step forward to build our apprenticeship programme has been a huge success. It has allowed us to connect with bright, motivated and enthusiastic students and we look forward to continuing to work with them in the future.

Hannah Jennings

Bloomberg