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Your NHS trust could be sitting on a HUGE training budget

It’s no secret that the NHS needs more skilled workers.

Your NHS trust could be sitting on a HUGE training budget 

It’s no secret that the NHS needs more skilled workers.  

The NHS has struggled to recruit, train and retain staff for years – and with funding cuts, staff shortages and Brexit driving staff away, the situation doesn’t seem to be improving. But there could be a solution: the apprenticeship levy.  

All NHS trusts with an annual wage bill over £3 million (or around 120 staff) have to pay the apprenticeship levy. This may sound like just another Government-enforced cost, but the levy is a unique opportunity for the NHS – a pot of money earmarked for apprenticeships.  

As the UK’s largest employer, the NHS pays £200 million into the apprenticeship levy every year. This means many trusts have accrued large amounts in their levy pots, and could be sitting on thousands of pounds of training budget. 

The problem is, some trusts have never heard about the levy. And others know about the levy, but aren’t sure how they can make apprenticeships work for them. There’s a lot in the air, so we’ve covered all the basics below: 

 What can the levy be spent on?

The levy can be spent on any type of apprenticeship training at any level – from entry-level two courses to degree-level programmes 

How do apprenticeships work in the NHS?  

NHS trusts can use apprenticeships in the same way as any other business. Apprentices spend 80% of their time learning skills on the job, and 20% of their time learning at college or university.  

There are TONS of relevant apprenticeships available for the NHS – from business admin to nursing to health and social care.  

Why are apprenticeships important in the NHS?   

  • Apprentices train on the job, so they're on the ward making a difference from day one.  
  • Trusts can use apprenticeships to recruit new talent and upskill existing staff. 
  • Apprentices get real experience of life on the ward, so they know exactly what they have to do when they’re qualified. 
  • Thanks to the apprenticeship levy, training costs are already covered, so trusts don’t have to find the extra cash to pay for it.  
  • And if you don’t use your levy funds within 24 months, they’re wiped from your account – so you’ve got to use it or lose it! 

How can I access my Trust’s levy funds?  

If you’re a HR or training manager, you’ll need to register for an Apprenticeship Service (AS) account to see how much levy funding your trust has. You can also search, manage and pay for apprenticeships using your AS account.  

Download our step-by-step guide to the Apprenticeship Service below 

Download guide


When you know how much you have to spend on apprenticeship training, it's up to you to spend it. Apprenticeships are new to many, so to make sure you get the best ROI from your levy, we’ve created an apprenticeship levy starter pack especially for NHS trusts.  

Download starter pack

This article includes research and opinion sourced by OneFile at the time of publication. Things may have changed since then,
so this research is to be used at the reader's discretion. OneFile is not liable for any action taken based on this research.