Continued fall in UK apprenticeship numbers blamed on levy Continued fall in UK apprenticeship numbers blamed on levy

Continued fall in UK apprenticeship numbers blamed on levy
29 Jun 2018

Experts are calling on the UK government to fix an apprenticeship levy that they claim is “going wrong”, after the latest figures from the Department for Education (DfE) revealed another drop in new starters.

Under the current system, employers with an annual pay bill of at least £3 million (US$3.95 million) are required to pay a levy of 0.5%, which they can then recoup in training vouchers. But the latest figures show there were just 261,200 new apprenticeship starts between August 2017 and March 2018, compared with 362,400 during the previous academic year – a drop of more than a quarter.

The figures were released on the three-year anniversary of the Government’s commitment to achieve three million apprenticeship starts by 2020. But a DfE report released last month revealed that it is less than halfway to achieving its aims. Experts accused the government of ignoring concerns about the levy.

Ann Francke, chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute, attested: "The drop in the number of apprenticeship starts shows that government needs to make apprenticeships a lot more flexible and a lot less bureaucratic. This is a transformation – not a tweak – and needs to be much more clearly communicated and managed."

Mark Dawe, head of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, said the Government was failing to recognise the impact that the process was having on smaller providers.

"They keep saying it’s all fine while the evidence points the other way altogether. We keep saying ‘for god’s sake, take some action, even if it’s just in the short term’ – especially around the SME market, which has been hit the hardest by the levy," he told People Management.

But apprenticeships and skills minister Anne Milton replied: "We had anticipated this drop in the number of people starting apprenticeships. The number of people taking up these new, higher-quality apprenticeships has increased rapidly beyond our expectations."

Meanwhile, giving evidence to the education select committee in May, education secretary Damian Hinds claimed the levy was going through a “period of change” and employers were taking time to adjust.

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

 

Experts are calling on the UK government to fix an apprenticeship levy that they claim is “going wrong”, after the latest figures from the Department for Education (DfE) revealed another drop in new starters.

Under the current system, employers with an annual pay bill of at least £3 million (US$3.95 million) are required to pay a levy of 0.5%, which they can then recoup in training vouchers. But the latest figures show there were just 261,200 new apprenticeship starts between August 2017 and March 2018, compared with 362,400 during the previous academic year – a drop of more than a quarter.

The figures were released on the three-year anniversary of the Government’s commitment to achieve three million apprenticeship starts by 2020. But a DfE report released last month revealed that it is less than halfway to achieving its aims. Experts accused the government of ignoring concerns about the levy.

Ann Francke, chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute, attested: "The drop in the number of apprenticeship starts shows that government needs to make apprenticeships a lot more flexible and a lot less bureaucratic. This is a transformation – not a tweak – and needs to be much more clearly communicated and managed."

Mark Dawe, head of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, said the Government was failing to recognise the impact that the process was having on smaller providers.

"They keep saying it’s all fine while the evidence points the other way altogether. We keep saying ‘for god’s sake, take some action, even if it’s just in the short term’ – especially around the SME market, which has been hit the hardest by the levy," he told People Management.

But apprenticeships and skills minister Anne Milton replied: "We had anticipated this drop in the number of people starting apprenticeships. The number of people taking up these new, higher-quality apprenticeships has increased rapidly beyond our expectations."

Meanwhile, giving evidence to the education select committee in May, education secretary Damian Hinds claimed the levy was going through a “period of change” and employers were taking time to adjust.

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

 

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