From education to employment

Labour to create 80,000 ‘Climate Apprenticeships’ per year if elected – sector response

Jeremy Corbyn plans to create 80,000 ‘Climate Apprenticeships’ per year if Labour are elected on 12th December. During his speech at the CBI conference Labour to create 80,000 ‘Climate Apprenticeships’ per year if elected. Labour have highlighted that the global ‘Green economy’ is valued at £4 Trillion in 2019, but is expected to grow to £9 Trillion in 2030 and that the ‘Climate Apprenticeship’ programme will be used to develop sustainable engineering skills, but with a diversion from the Apprenticeship Levy to fund this.

This is an interesting development, with a very real understanding that the UK needs to develop the Sustainable skills, particularly in STEM and Engineering subjects for a sustainable economic future, but if the Apprenticeship Levy pot is diverted, does this set a precedent that future training outside of Apprenticeships could also be ‘ear marked’ for utilisation? The potential problems of lack of funding due to the predicted Apprenticeship Levy pot overspend will only be exasperated by including other forms of funding. Plus, there has been a subtle trend in Government to use the term ‘Levy’, instead of ‘Apprenticeship Levy’, does this mean that the pot will be used for other things? 

What does the sector think of Labour’s plans?

Association of Employment and Learning Providers chief executive Mark Dawe said:

“Labour have obviously given careful consideration to reforming the levy and the climate apprenticeships target for a whole term doesn’t seem unrealistic.  These apprenticeships are vital for the future and we support investment in the training of our young people and workforce for this important sector. 

“AELP wants to see large and small businesses in all sectors benefit from the levy which is already being overspent on apprenticeships and therefore we believe that it is premature to start talking about the levy being used for other forms of training.  When all SMEs can start accessing funding from the government’s Apprenticeship Service next year, any levy payer’s unspent levy entitlement should be available for smaller employers to use without the need for the transfer mechanism.  Nonetheless there still won’t be enough funding to meet demand and so we are calling for an additional £1.5bn annual apprenticeship budget for SMEs.”

Ian Pretty, CEO, Collab Group, said: 

“We welcome the announcement from Labour that they plan to create 320,000 climate apprenticeships in the first term of a Labour Government. Further education colleges can play in a key role in providing the technical expertise to tackle climate change.

“We are however concerned about the proposal to allow the levy to be redeemed from a broader range of accredited training. Doing so runs the risk of undermining the uptake of apprenticeships and weakening the apprenticeship brand.

“We welcome proposals to increase the amount of money businesses can transfer to non-levy paying small and medium-sized businesses. What is needed though is not just an increase in the amount of money that can be transferred, but a need to reduce the complexity of the Digital Apprenticeships System. The system as it currently stands is preventing employers from transferring money, so the raising the transfer cap is good, but it won’t mean much unless employers are able to transfer funds relatively easily.”

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