TIGA has suggested introducing greater flexibility to the Apprenticeships Levy in light of The Times’ recent report that the Government is backing away from its target of 3 million apprenticeship starts by 2020.
Asked three times whether the Government would meet its goal, the prime minister’s official spokeswoman declined to comment. Research by EEF, the manufacturers’ association, found there was scant prospect of the target being reached.
The body suggested that to achieve the three million target by April 2020 about 68,000 new apprenticeships would have to start each month between now and then. Since an apprenticeship levy was introduced in April last year the average monthly start rate has been 28,000. Before the levy there were 44,000 starts a month on average.
Robert Halfon MP, Chair of the Education Committee, told The Times: “If this [the abandonment of the target] is correct it might not be a bad thing − if it leads to quality over quantity. But the Treasury guarantee of £2.5bn [mostly through the levy] on apprentices must be kept.”
TIGA’s has consistently argued that employers should to be free to spend their Levy money on the best training courses available, not simply apprenticeships.
Dr Richard Wilson OBE, Chief Executive of TIGA, said:
“If the Government is indeed moving away from its apprenticeships target, this could provide an opportunity to rethink how the Apprenticeships Levy is spent. It is important to consider the quality, not just quantity of vocational qualifications. In the creative and high technology industries such as the video games industry, apprenticeships have not traditionally been used by employers to train their staff.
“TIGA has long argued that employers should be able to use their Levy allocation as they see fit. This would allow them to upskill staff through a wider range of educational pathways. A diversity of high quality training options is more likely to meet the needs of employers and learners than a one-size-fits all approach.”