Apprentice levy funds are there to improve diversity in adland

National Apprentice Week 2024, 5 - 11 February 2024.

Gwyn March, IPA CPD Adviser, looks into why apprentice levy funds are left unused while apprenticeships are a crucial way to improve diversity and inclusion in the industry.

73.1% of £6.3M apprentice levy funds were unused in 2023 according to the latest IPA Census. Moreover, very few non levy paying agencies were taking up the Government’s grant of 95% of the training cost for an apprentice. This is a waste of money and of opportunity as apprenticeships are a brilliant way to improve our diversity and inclusion.

Gwyn March, IPA CPD Adviser

At the 2023 IPA Media Planning and Strategy Summit, Kandice Quain of Bray Leino noted “learning through an employer funded apprenticeship gives opportunities to people from all backgrounds.” 

  • It comes with a salary they can live on, so they don’t have to be a ‘bank of mum and dad’ kid doing internships.
  • You can recruit from much overlooked postcode areas as it prioritises skills over formal educational qualifications, which levels the playing fields for candidates in the more traditional hiring process and gives us access to different ideas. When IPA President, Josh Krichefski, launched his People First agenda in 2023 he said: “Our people are everything. It’s their brilliance and imagination which is what makes us who and what we are.”
  • Apprentices get lots of support – a learning coach from the training company and a mentor at the agency, which can help with belonging and retention.
  • They are not just for entry level roles (such as Advertising and Media Executive, Junior Advertising Creative) as you can use apprenticeships to upskill – and thus retain – your existing staff at all levels and from all backgrounds – everything from Data Analyst, Multi Channel Marketer, Project Management and Coaching to degree level such as Leadership, Creative Mastery and Data Scientist.

What support can you get from the IPA?

The Entry Level Talent Advisory Service is an adjunct to our new career’s hub

The one-stop-shop of information, guidance and inspiration for potential advertising practitioners, talent advisory services, parents, guardians, teachers and our agency employers.

Among its sections are over 60 ways to hire a more diverse workforce – age, ethnicity, neurodiversity, disability, inclusion and more. Agencies can also ask [email protected] questions such as ‘are there any good training providers for that apprenticeship?’ and ‘what are good ways to use the levy to upskill and retain?’

Webinar: Inside apprenticeships – how to maximise talent

In this free webinar on 7 February, two agencies explain how they used apprenticeship levy money to attract, develop and retain diverse and inclusive employees.

Reforming the apprentice levy

The IPA has, on behalf of its members, submitted a response to the Department for Business & Trade’s call for evidence on 'Smarter Regulation and the Regulatory Landscape'. This includes the industry’s view that the apprentice levy needs reforming, particularly greater flexibility where it can be spent, simplifying the rules and revising upwards funding bands for creative apprenticeships. We continue to work with the other creative industries via the Creative Industries Council Education and Skills Working Group, the Discover Creative Careers programme and attending relevant All Party Parliamentary Groups.

Reserve your ticket for the free webinar "Inside apprenticeships – how to maximise talent"


The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and were submitted in accordance with the IPA terms and conditions regarding the uploading and contribution of content to the IPA newsletters, IPA website, or other IPA media, and should not be interpreted as representing the opinion of the IPA.

Last updated 01 May 2024