Employers question Government’s apprenticeship policy

A group of top employers have expressed concern that government targets on apprenticeships will not meet the needs of sectors with the most critical skills shortages.

A group of the UK’s top employers have raised doubts over the Government’s apprenticeship policy. Over 90 per cent of the 150 employers surveyed by City & Guilds at the recent Making Apprenticeships Work conference thought the 3 million apprenticeships target was arbitrary, while 84 per cent want it to be linked to sectors experiencing the biggest skills shortages.

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Kirstie Donnelly, Managing Director of City & Guilds said: “The commitment to apprenticeships among UK employers is clear. However, the Government must make the new system as simple as possible for businesses.

“There are still so many questions about how the new system will work, from the levy to inspection and the various governance boards being created. With the entire system being overhauled there is a real opportunity to make it one that opens doors for apprentices and employers rather than puts up barriers.”

Those surveyed were less than happy with the levy with two thirds saying they were only a little aware or completely unaware of how the payment would affect them while 53 per cent of employers said the payment would not encourage them to take on more apprentices.

There was concern among employers that making the cash back from the levy virtual will discourage them from increasing apprenticeship numbers. Many were concerned the introduction of the levy might jeopardise in-house training programmes as organisations would cut costs in other areas.

The quality of training provision was also brought into question – those surveyed were concerned that local providers would not meet the standards required and there was a desire to be able to choose from a wider range of providers.

The findings come ahead of National Apprenticeships Week (14th-18th March) – the same week as the Chancellor gives his Budget statement

Debbie Carter

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