British business ‘in the dark’ on apprenticeship levy

Ann Watson, CEO of Semta, has called for clarity regarding impending plans about the future of British apprenticeships.

Last month Skills Minister Nick Boles MP, told the All Party Parliamentary Group on Apprenticeships, that an Apprenticeship Levy on ‘larger businesses’ would allow them to fund apprenticeships further down the supply chain.

According to the Skills Minister, the Apprenticeship Levy would be based on a token system, where large companies would exchange their tokens for training young people and upskilling the current workforce.

Nick Boles said: “One thing that we are going to do is make it possible for every business to invest their levy vouchers in apprenticeships not for their own employees – but to their customers their suppliers or maybe the company opposite in the industrial park."

Speaking at the launch of The Skills Show at the NEC in Birmingham, where 140 apprentices will compete in the national finals of the WorldSkills UK engineering competitions, Watson revealed that most companies are clueless as to what is in store.

She said: “Our research is unequivocal: British business is totally in the dark as to what changes are in the pipeline and when they may be implemented. We applaud the Government’s target to produce 3million new apprenticeships during this Parliament – but industry does need to know details of the plan as soon as possible."

A government spokesperson has confirmed that the details of the Apprenticeship Levy will be disclosed in the Comprehensive Spending Review on 25 November 2015 and that the levy is expected to come into operation by April 2017.

Levy systems are already in place in over 50 countries including Netherlands, Denmark and South Korea. The UK Government's Apprenticeship Levy system aims to increase the number of businesses investing in training that has been in decline in the UK for the last 20 years.

“It all sounds tantalisingly good,” Watson continued, “but it is a major step change and everyone needs enough time to put it into practice.”