In the lead up to National Apprenticeship Week 2021, the Credit Services Association (CSA), the UK trade body for the collections and debt purchase sector, is urging money and debt advice organisations to take advantage of Apprenticeship Levy funds available to run apprenticeships for their existing and prospective advisers.
The Level 3 Debt Adviser Apprenticeship, a first-of-its-kind cross-sector qualification, was approved for delivery by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education in early 2020 with the CSA being named as an approved training provider to deliver it. However, following such a turbulent year, it was not possible to secure a suitable End-Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO) to commit to undertaking the assessment of it and the apprenticeship therefore has not yet been rolled out.
Given that the economic impact of Covid-19 has significantly increased the demand for high quality debt advice, the CSA is now making this a priority and is in talks with an EPAO who will enable them to begin offering it in 2021.
Fiona Macaskill, Director of Learning & Development, CSA, said:
“Debt advice is currently the only area of financial advice that doesn’t have a minimum required standard to give advice and the new Debt Adviser Apprenticeship was designed to address this. Raising standards in debt advice by upskilling existing advisers and attracting new talent into the sector via a robust entry-level qualification is arguably more important than ever as a key part of the economic recovery from Covid-19. This Apprenticeship isn’t designed to replace existing advice sector qualifications or force already qualified advisers to re-train but offers an alternative route to those whose employers cannot fund existing qualifications.
“We are therefore absolutely committed to rolling out the Debt Adviser Apprenticeship in 2021 and we are urging any organisations that provide debt advice to get in touch and express their interest in enrolling their existing and new adviser employees onto our apprenticeship programme as soon as we are able to start it.
“Employers with an annual payroll of more than £3m that pay the Apprenticeship Levy can use their levy funds to pay for the apprenticeship and those that do not pay it can access unused levy funds for free. It is therefore a ‘no brainer’ for organisations who are seeking to increase the capacity and quality of the debt advice services they offer.”
Sebrina McCullough, Head of External Relations at Financial Wellness Group and Chair of the Debt Adviser Apprenticeship Trailblazer Group, added:
“Thanks to the collective efforts of the Trailblazer Group the apprenticeship was poised to launch in March 2020. However, unfortunately, we had to take the decision to pause activity.
“This year we expect to see the apprenticeship rebuild momentum, thanks in part to the efforts of the CSA. Not only do we expect to have an End Point Assessor in place shortly but training for those on the apprenticeship will now be available remotely, making it accessible to all.”
“With demand for debt advice expected to soar over the coming months, never has it been more important to have a clear route into the sector that helps to increase the quality and consistency of advice and recognise advisers as professionals providing an essential service.”
Fiona and Sebrina will be speaking at the apprenticeship-themed MALG Members Friday Forum on 5 February and the CSA is holding its annual Learning & Development Conference on 9 February during National Apprenticeship Week.
Employers can express an interest in running the Debt Adviser Apprenticeship and find out more by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.