The government must take urgent steps to reform England’s Apprenticeship Levy, to enable businesses to provide more of the high-quality training they need to succeed. This is according to a recently-published CBI report cited by Barclays Magazine, titled ‘Learning on the job: Improving the Apprenticeship Levy.’
Firms channel more than £44bn every year into skills training and are huge supporters of apprenticeship schemes. While businesses have praised recent efforts by the government to transform the Levy, two years on from the introduction of the system the total number of apprentice starts is still significantly down.
With concerns raised about the sustainability of the Levy amid increasing financial pressure, the government must urgently begin its promised public consultation on plans for the Levy post-2020 – which is just two months away.
The CBI’s chief UK policy director, Matthew Fell, acknowledged that the low number of apprenticeship starts is a sign that the Levy isn’t working as planned – particularly among small businesses. Despite its ‘rocky start,’ Fell said, companies are committed to supporting the government’s efforts to evolve the system and play a role in making it effective.
He continued: “Without urgent action, the Apprenticeship Levy risks becoming a roadblock to the Government’s wider and welcome efforts to modernise the skills system.”
Companies are confused and are desperate for some clarity about how their Levy funds are being used, Fell said. These companies are reading stories speculating that the Levy is overspent, but they are themselves struggling to utilise their own Levy funds for training.
Fell urged the government to follow through on its previous promise and urgently consult companies about the future of the Levy before we reach the end of 2019. He said that many businesses would like the Apprenticeship Levy to be changed to a more encompassing Flexible Skills Levy, which would enable companies to deliver more high-quality training that enables them to flourish while offering people rewarding and successful careers.
Do you agree that the Apprenticeship Levy should be broadened into a Flexible Skills Levy?