Number of UK apprenticeship starts fall dramatically Number of UK apprenticeship starts fall dramatically

Number of UK apprenticeship starts fall dramatically
06 Mar 2018

There has been a dramatic fall in the number of UK apprenticeship starts since the introduction of the levy in April 2017, with claims that a significant number of apprentices are being let down by inadequate training providers and a hit-and-miss approach to quality.

Under the levy, all UK businesses with an annual payroll bill of more than £3 million (US$4.1 million) are required to pay 0.5% into an apprenticeship fund. The aim is to fill skills gaps and provide new routes into the workplace by investing in technical education.

But the first year of the scheme has proved disappointing, according to People Management. Too few businesses are aware of the levy, there have been reports of employers and providers writing it off as a tax or fiddling costs, and the number of apprenticeship starts has plunged.

The latest figures from the UK Department for Education revealed a 35% drop in apprenticeship starts for November 2017 compared to same month last year. Figures also released by education regulator Ofsted at the end of January revealed that the proportion of students being taught by inadequate providers had increased to 20% in 2017. Four out of ten providers assessed by Ofsted needed to improve, while 11% were deemed ‘inadequate’.

A report published in January by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development also found that just 17% of levy-paying employers supported the existing system, while more than 53% would prefer a broader training levy.

“The architecture of the whole system seems to be woefully inadequate," said Labour peer Lord Alistair Darling. "Everyone has a finger in the pie but no one is in charge, and if you look at it from the viewpoint of the apprentice who feels they are being given an inadequate training service, they have nowhere to go."

 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.

There has been a dramatic fall in the number of UK apprenticeship starts since the introduction of the levy in April 2017, with claims that a significant number of apprentices are being let down by inadequate training providers and a hit-and-miss approach to quality.

Under the levy, all UK businesses with an annual payroll bill of more than £3 million (US$4.1 million) are required to pay 0.5% into an apprenticeship fund. The aim is to fill skills gaps and provide new routes into the workplace by investing in technical education.

But the first year of the scheme has proved disappointing, according to People Management. Too few businesses are aware of the levy, there have been reports of employers and providers writing it off as a tax or fiddling costs, and the number of apprenticeship starts has plunged.

The latest figures from the UK Department for Education revealed a 35% drop in apprenticeship starts for November 2017 compared to same month last year. Figures also released by education regulator Ofsted at the end of January revealed that the proportion of students being taught by inadequate providers had increased to 20% in 2017. Four out of ten providers assessed by Ofsted needed to improve, while 11% were deemed ‘inadequate’.

A report published in January by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development also found that just 17% of levy-paying employers supported the existing system, while more than 53% would prefer a broader training levy.

“The architecture of the whole system seems to be woefully inadequate," said Labour peer Lord Alistair Darling. "Everyone has a finger in the pie but no one is in charge, and if you look at it from the viewpoint of the apprentice who feels they are being given an inadequate training service, they have nowhere to go."

 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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