Verity Davidge, Head of Education and Skills Policy, EEF

EEF represents some of the best manufacturing and engineering apprenticeship employers there are. Apprenticeships in our sector are very much the gold standard apprenticeships – known for their quality. Apprenticeships have been ingrained within the sector for decades. They are one of the key ways manufacturers secure the skills they need for the future.

That’s why they stand firmly behind the Government’s ambition to create more quality apprenticeships.

Manufacturers saw potential benefits from the Apprenticeship Levy – increasing the number of apprenticeships, driving responsiveness of colleges and training providers and giving employers greater purchasing power to buy the training provision they need. The Apprenticeship Levy had some laudable aims.

What was once a win-win, has now turned into a lose-lose

But what was once a win-win, has now become a lose-lose. The number of apprenticeship starts has fallen dramatically. And even if we ignore the headline statistics on quantity, various reports suggest that quality is taking a hit also with training being rebadged as an apprenticeship and standards nowhere near the quality benchmarks of our international competitors.

Manufacturers cannot afford to stop training apprentices altogether so where possible have powered through what has been a costly and complicated programme of reform,

That said, one in ten have either delayed or cancelled an engineering apprenticeship specifically because of the Levy.

eef fig1

These are apprenticeships that could have been created, these are opportunities that could have been available to young people, but because of the complexity and rigidity of the Apprenticeship Levy and wider reform programme have not.

We need to add value in the system. If we haven’t added any value, then what was the point of this radical reform?

Broken promises? Manufacturers kept their end of the bargain but Government has not

It was in one of the (many) consultations the Government has published following the Richard Review of Apprenticeships, that the Government made promises on the Levy to employers: the Levy will be simple; the Levy will be fair; the Levy will allow employers to get back more than put in; the Levy will give employers real control.

But these promises have been broken. EEF’s new report ‘A Levy Price to Pay: The Apprenticeship Levy One Year On’ highlights the stark difference between the Government’s “vision” and manufacturers’ “reality.”

And what does reality look like for manufacturers? Well it looks like a very challenging journey:

eef fig2

Manufacturers case for change: save before we scrap

Only 5% of manufacturers want to leave the Levy as it is. The overwhelming majority are looking for some form of change…or scrapping the system entirely:

  • 52% of manufacturers want to see improvements made to the Apprenticeship Levy
  • 26% want to see the Levy widened to a training Levy payable by all businesses
  • 17% want to see the Levy scrapped entirely

But those wanting to save the Levy have some major caveats.

They want to see change, and they want to see it now.

That’s why we have set out 7 key recommendations in our report which have the potential to create more quality apprenticeships in the system and get the Levy back on track.

  1. Move the Apprenticeship (Levy) Budget from Department Expenditure Limit (DEL) to Annually Managed Expenditure (AME)
  2. Increase the lifetime of funds that employers have to spend their Levy to at least 48 months
  3. Review the funding band structure, removing the upper limit
  4. Expand incentive payments to employers, providers and learners for STEM apprenticeships
  5. Increase the amount of unused funds employers can transfer to over 50% and remove restrictions on transferring to a single employer
  6. Allow employers to agree a payment schedule with their provider
  7. The process of signing off standards must become quicker and more transparent and empower the role of employers further

Getting apprenticeship policy, and wider education and skills policy right is more important than ever as the UK prepares to leave the EU.

Manufacturers are committed to playing their part but Government must act now and fix what is clearly broken in the system.

Verity Davidge, Head of Education and Skills Policy, EEF

About EEFThe manufacturers’ organisation, is the representative voice of UK manufacturing, with offices in London, Brussels, every English region and Wales. This year we celebrate 120 years of backing Britain’s makers. Collectively we represent 20,000 companies of all sizes, from start-ups to multinationals, across engineering, manufacturing, technology and the wider industrial sector.

We directly represent over 5,000 businesses who are members of EEF. Everything we do – from providing essential business support and training to championing manufacturing industry in the UK and the EU – is designed to help British manufacturers compete, innovate and grow. From HR and employment law, health and safety to environmental and productivity improvement, our advice, expertise and influence enables businesses to remain safe, compliant and future-focused.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 1 hour 3 minutes ago

Global citizens and scientists shine hope on how to achieve a thriving net zero future: New international COP26 pro…
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