More concerns arise over apprenticeship levy reform

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The latest apprenticeship start data for England show a year on year drop in starts of 34% for the first three quarters of 2017/18. The figures also show that there have been 24,100 starts recorded so far in April 2018, compared with around 39,400 in April 2016. This represents a 39 per cent decrease, compared with the same period in 2016.

In response to the data Edwin Morgan, Director of Policy at the Institute of Directors, said: “We now have a full year’s worth of Apprenticeship Levy data, and the results do not make for pleasant reading. On this trajectory, it does not look possible for Government to meet its target of 3 million starts by 2020.

“From the beginning, businesses have raised valid concerns around the complexity and rigidity of the system. The Government recently announced it would allow greater scope for firms to pass Levy funds through their supply chain, and we hope that this is the beginning of further reforms that make the Levy work for both employers and apprentices.

“Improving skills is a leading concern for our members. It’s now time for Government to rethink the approach and work with businesses to turn the levy from a drag on apprenticeships into a system that delivers the right skills in the right places.”

John Cope, CBI Head of Education and Skills, said: “This stark drop in apprenticeship starts serves as a reminder that the apprenticeship levy is not working as intended. If we don’t significantly reform the levy quickly, companies will find it harder to invest in the quality apprenticeships and skills training they value so highly.

“The Government has accepted the need for levy reform and is working with businesses to improve the system, but we do need to pick up the pace.

“We will continue to press the Government for more flexibility in the levy, by permitting employers to ‘pool’ their funds and allowing more transfers through their supply chain, and will support the Institute for Apprenticeships to speed up the approval of apprenticeship standards.”