CMI's Petra Wilton

According to Einstein the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”.

So when applied to the world of training – where we have an intransigent productivity problem with the UK at 21% lower than the G7, and systemic skills shortages especially in higher level professional skills – it is clear we need to do something fundamentally different. 

The new apprenticeship reforms offer just that – an employer rather than provider-led system, a new focus on higher-level, professional skills rather than technician and lower-level skills,  and rather than a voluntary approach, a new levy mechanism to drive up employer commitment and investment in skills.

Yet, against this flagship new initiative the Institute for Fiscal Studies published a new report labelling the new Apprenticeship Levy a “stealth tax” which “represents poor value for money”. 

And many of the business lobby groups seized upon this as another opportunity to pour cold water over a new Government initiative before it has even started.  Just as turkeys don’t vote for Christmas, very few businesses vote for increased taxation. 

But labelling the Apprenticeship Levy as a ‘tax’ is misleading – as it is better understood as a skills investment plan. 

From April, organisations with a payroll of £3m+ will pay a 0.5% Levy into a digital account. Employers can then use it in full to fund any apprenticeship programme, and will also earn a 10% top-up from Government. 

A top-up that represents far better value than most investment plans in the market. In addition, those employers who are investing more than their levy pot, will then be able to get 90% of further programmes funded by the Government.

But to reap these rewards employers need to engage rather than sit on the sidelines.  Too many employers are still unaware of how ‘apprenticeships’ have fundamentally changed, and simply close down their options too early.

Apprenticeships are not just about taking on new staff, they can be used to upskill or retrain current employees. 

In uncertain market conditions and with the age of austerity still hitting the public sector, many employers not surprisingly shy away from the prospect of taking on new staff, and so rule out apprenticeships. 

They are simply unaware that the new apprenticeships can be used for existing staff. 

Many employers also claim that there’s no apprenticeship standard that works for them – they don’t need technical skills or lower level skills. 

Advertisement

Again, they are simply not aware of the new apprenticeships covering cross-cutting and higher-level skills such as management, accountancy, and digital – key skills that nearly all employers could benefit from improvements.   

Both attracting and developing talent is crucial to long-term business success, but in many organisations training for managers is overlooked.

The Levy tackles a blind spot in that 71% of firms admit that they fail to offer management training to first-time managers.

This is a huge mistake given that according to Investors in People an estimated £84bn is lost in the UK each year as a result of bad management. 

The apprenticeship agenda offers a great opportunity for both FE Colleges and private training providers, as the new trailblazer standards in management and leadership provide pathways from level 3 team leader apprenticeships through to a Chartered Manager degree apprenticeship. 

Also in development is a Master’s level degree apprenticeship for senior leaders to ensure those at the top of organisations are equipped for leading change and high performance cultures.

As Josh Hardie, CBI deputy director-general rightly points out:the UK must carve out a new economic future and this is an area where we must take action to support our competitiveness and prosperity.”  

The levy addresses this by stimulating investment in higher level skills including the next generation of managers.

The benefits of apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships are not just for large firms. 

By setting the Apprenticeship Levy at 0.5% of an employer’s wage bill, with a £15,000 allowance to offset the cost, smaller companies (with payrolls under £3m) will pay nothing. Instead, the Government will fund 90% of the costs of their apprenticeship programmes – and for micro-businesses the apprenticeships will be fully funded.

So if employers start to really explore how they can use their Apprenticeship Levy funds then the £2.6bn raised by the Treasury could be fully reinvested back into their own skills programmes to grow their businesses. 

This would soon put pay to claims that apprenticeships are “poor value for money” and just an unused stealth tax that the Government ends up investing elsewhere. 

Petra Wilton, Director of Strategy, CMI

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page