There are a number of promising workforce recommendations from the Dame Carol Black review (DCBR) including a commitment to fund training for those working in the sector:

We recommend that the Department of Health and Social Care commission Health Education England (HEE) to devise by the end of 2021 a comprehensive strategy to increase the number of professionally qualified drug treatment staff (psychiatrists and other doctors, psychologists and other therapists, nurses and social workers), and set occupational standards, competency and training requirements for drug workers and peer recovery workers. Government should also fund HEE to cover the costs of training the workforce.

Whilst the sector awaits the next steps to the DCBR, there remains the issue of the apprenticeship levy, and how to spend it. Since April 2017 employers with a pay bill of over £3 million a year have been required to pay an apprenticeship levy, charged at 0.5% of their annual pay bill. Organisations can claim this money back, but only if they spend it on apprenticeships for their staff. Without a sector-specific apprenticeship organisations have been finding a range of innovative ways to train their staff using the apprenticeship levy. Some organisations are employing apprentices in new positions; however the levy is also being used to train existing members of staff. Many are using existing apprenticeship qualifications for staff, and working with training providers to provide some drug and alcohol specific content to the training where appropriate. Here are some examples of how the levy is being used.

With You

Since Spring 2021, With You have been using the apprenticeship levy to fund cohorts of managers to take part in two leadership qualifications. Both offering Diplomas, the Level 3 qualification is for those who are early in their management careers or for people who are in roles where they mentor others. A Level 5 qualification is offered to more experienced managers who will be overseeing teams at a more senior operational level.

With You work with an external provider who runs closed cohort courses so our managers from different services can take part in these courses together. This has helped to bring about a learning community and elements of peer support which had sometimes been missing for managers of small teams where they might be the only person in that role within a given locality.

We've worked with the training provider to shape content so that as well as covering the broader leadership knowledge and skill sets, we've been able to embed elements which are specific to how we want people to work at With You.

We're currently evaluating the effectiveness of these programmes but we hope that focusing on management development will in turn support broader standards of working within our wider services.

The Apprenticeship Levy has also been used to fund qualifications in data and administration as well as some frontline courses in nursing and health and social care.

Turning Point

Turning Point have been using most of the apprenticeship levy to train those in keyworker/ recovery worker positions at Level 2-3 Diploma in Adult Care. Other uses of the levy have included:

  • Level 5 Operational/ Departmental Management Diploma for those in middle managerial positions and Level 7 Management qualifications for those in more senior management positions.

  • The levy has also been used to train staff to Nurse Associate Degree level.


Without a sector-specific apprenticeship for the sector, providers have been using the levy creatively to meet the needs of their organisations. When the next steps of the DCBR recommendations regarding workforce take place, employers are keen to continue to influence the training agenda for their staff and for those who use services.

Kate Halliday, Executive Director, Addiction Professionals
Rick Bradley, Head of Learning and Development, With You
Tony Barker, Training Manager, Turning Point