Manufacturers’ association the EEF has delivered one of the strongest attacks yet on the government’s Apprenticeship Levy, saying it had been “highly damaging” for employers and the young workers it was intended to help.
It has demanded an early summit with Downing Street, pointing out that 95% of employers surveyed were demanding changes to the system.
EEF head of education and skills policy, Verity Davidge, said the most pressing problem was the freefall in the number starting apprenticeships. Figures for January showed a 31% drop in numbers compared to the same time last year.
“Whilst the apprentice levy had laudable aims, its impact has been highly damaging for employers and apprentices. What should have been a win-win situation has turned into a lose-lose,” said Davidge.
“We have to address the alarming drop in starts initially and then look at positive solutions which are on the table to make the levy work for employers and learners in the long term.”
What should have been a win-win situation has turned into a lose-lose
Verity Davidge, head of education and skills policy, EEF
The warning follows the recent survey by the EEF which disclosed the level of dissatisfaction amongst industry respondents.
More than 50% say apprenticeship standards are not ready for delivery
40% say college and training providers do not address manufacturer needs
11% cancelled their own apprenticeship plans because of the levy
The EEF has demanded that the levy budget be switched to annually managed expenditure to ensure budgeting is based upon actual demand. It also calls for:
An increase in the time for spending funds to four years – mirroring the length of engineering apprenticeships
Remove the £27k upper limit in order to cover the true cost involved
Expand incentive payments for STEM apprenticeships
Faster signoffs for apprenticeship standards
Allow employers and providers to agree payment schedules
Davidge added that the EEF, which trains more than 1,000 apprentices annually, was committed to the principle of they levy, as were most manufacturers.
“Everyone shares the ambition of creating high quality apprenticeships, which are essential if industry is going to access the skills it will need in the future, especially in a post Brexit world where fewer skilled workers will come to the UK,” she added.