Stephen Evans, Chief Executive, Learning and Work Institute

We have consistently highlighted the risks around unequal access and inconsistent quality that Reform's report on the Apprenticeship Levy, "The Great Training Robbery: assessing the first year of the apprenticeship levy", sets out. And, like them, we've argued that employer sign off for standards should be underpinned by an international quality benchmark: a two-tick system. It's also clear that we need to do more to ensure fair access to apprenticeships, including for young people. 

The report is also correct that apprenticeships aren't everything - we've consistently argued for other forms of learning and workforce development too. The challenge is to develop these routes, rather than cutting off current routes to progression without anything else in place.

One year into the Apprenticeship Levy is long enough to gain some insight into its effects, though too early to make a full judgment. But we acknowledge that the Levy is a genuinely bold policy and it’s something we support. The challenge now is to refine it so that it works for people and for employers.

We think the following will help achieve this:

Focus on outcomes

We’ve argued for annual data on outcomes, including the long-term earnings and employment of apprentices, to be published. These outcomes matter more than an arbitrary target measuring apprenticeship starts, otherwise we risk hitting (or missing) the target but missing the point.

Speaking of earnings, our survey showed one in four current or recent employers of apprentices doesn’t know the National Minimum Wage rules. We need to simplify the rules, ensure apprentices and employers know what they are, and then enforce them.

Boost quality and target effort

We’ve argued the new standards should be benchmarked against the best in the world, as well as approved by employer groups. We’d also like to see a greater push (in policy, funding and delivery) for growth in apprenticeships for young people. 

We predicted the OBR’s recent downgrade in the amount the Levy will raise - and think that the apprenticeship budget and amount available for SMEs should be underpinned over the economic cycle.

Widen access

Everyone who can benefit from an apprenticeship should be able to access one. This needs reforms to funding, including our idea of an Apprentice Premium to draw together existing fragmented and complex funding streams. This needs to be alongside action on the ground to integrate support and engage employers, including focusing on clearer pathways to apprenticeships such as Traineeships.

Lifelong learning strategy

Apprenticeships are important, but there’s more to life than them. The absence of any other workforce development route encourages government and employers to shoehorn everything into being an apprenticeship. We need to develop other routes and this needs to be in the context of a lifelong learning strategy that sets out how the pieces of the jigsaw fit together.

We need a different approach to targets and outcome measures in the future, and Reform's report is a welcome contribution to that debate. The Levy is a step forward, it's time to take the next step.

Stephen Evans, Chief Executive, Learning and Work Institute

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

Educating yourself in Prison: an inside job

Educating yourself in Prison: an inside job

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter yesterday

RT @NCFE: ‘For as long as humans have worked, and whatever industry they may have worked in, success has always been predicated on having t…
View Original Tweet

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 Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 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, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

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.


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.


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