The Apprenticeship Levy is two years old tomorrow (6th April 2019).
We chatted with Anne Milton, Minister of State for Skills and Apprenticeships and recorded a podcast reflecting on the past two years of the Levy.
The Minister answered questions about the highlights of Apprenticeship Levy, the lessons learnt.
She clarified about unused Apprenticeship Levy Pots from Levy paying employers, chatted about the increase in productivity for Higher level apprenticeships, encouraging more entry level apprenticeships and encouraging apprenticeships in SME’s and Micro Business.
Then the Minister discussed the future of the Levy.
We then thought it would be interesting to ask key stakeholders in the sector to share their views about the Apprenticeship Levy on it’s second anniversary.
Mark Dawe, Chief Executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) says:
“On the levy’s second anniversary, we strongly support the minister’s call for IfATE to be more responsive and open when the Institute is embarking on another round of funding band reviews. The education select committee said that we can’t be expected to deliver quality apprenticeships on the cheap and so transparency around the review process is absolutely essential if for example apprenticeships in the care sector are going to survive. There is an easier way to cut costs for employers and that’s to look at the current arrangements for EPA and EQA. Ofqual will do EQA for no charge, so why not give it sole responsibility for it?
“AELP also agrees with Anne Milton that getting SME employers on to the apprenticeship system could make a big difference in realigning the levy reforms which in our view were becoming detached from the government’s social mobility agenda. However as FE News highlighted in the interview with the minister, the pressures on the levy pot mean that a solution has to be found to adequately fund the non-levy paying employers to enable them to offer apprenticeship opportunities to local people which Anne Milton wants and which we’ve been calling for from the start.”
Stephen Evans, chief executive, Learning and Work Institute said:
"The introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, alongside other reforms, was a bold and welcome change. We need a step change in investment in and use of skills to boost productivity, as well as bringing all the other benefits to economic growth and social justice that we set out in our recent Time for Action report. The Levy can make a valuable contribution to doing that.
"This anniversary is a good time to reflect on where we are now and where we go next. The Levy has increased employer engagement with apprenticeships, and the growth in higher apprenticeships offers new ways to boost productivity and social mobility. But the fall in starts and increased focus on higher apprenticeships means we are highly likely to both miss the government’s three million apprenticeship start target and overspend the budget, as the recent National Audit Office report shows.
"Our view is that further reforms are needed in order to boost the focus on quality and access. The Institute for Apprenticeships should benchmark apprenticeship standards against the best in the world and publish data on the long-term employment and earnings impacts of apprenticeships, as well as building in a bigger voice for apprentices themselves. Our research has shown stark inequalities in access which mean some groups miss out on the chance of an apprenticeships. We need funding changes and front line action to tackle this.
"Overall, the Apprenticeship Levy is a good idea and a positive step forward. But there’s more to do to maximise its impact and make it all it can be."
Ian Pretty, CEO, Collab Group comments:
"The apprenticeship system has been through considerable changes in the last two years. We remain supportive of the policy in principle, but there are still many areas where we must refine the system. We are concerned about the pricing of some standards, the difficulty in small employers being able to access apprenticeships and the rigidity of the 20% off the job training rule. The key going forward will be to focus on quality while at the same time permitting more flexibility in the system from both the provider and employer perspective. Collab Group will continue to work with colleges, government and stakeholders to address these challenges and to ensure that the Apprenticeship Levy is a success. Apprenticeships will be an essential means to improve the skills of the UK workforce, so we need to grow apprenticeship achievements across the board, and ensure that the system is adaptable to the needs of the economy in the next two years and beyond.”
Alison Cox, Head of Apprenticeships & Stakeholder Engagement, CMI, said:
"Although not without its flaws, the levy is transforming how employers invest in apprenticeships. It has, for example, accelerated investment in long-neglected management training and opened up management and leadership education to the next generation, with fantastic results for groups that are traditionally poorly represented in management roles. Looking forward, whilst there are aspects that need reform, the most important thing for employers is stability and certainty, so that they have the confidence to engage and invest in the apprenticeship programme going forward."
Ben Rowland, co-founder of Arch Apprentices, said:
"The opportunity presented by the levy is really positive for employers and employees alike but due to the challenges of the how the system works and the changing perceptions around apprenticeships it’s no surprise the uptake has been so low.
"With UK businesses set to lose over a billion as of next month – we urge employers to invest the time and resources to reap the benefits.
"Our latest research shows that there is a growing concern amongst UK businesses about the shrinking talent pool and mass exit of existing talent following Brexit, yet we must question why so few taken advantage of the levy?"
Please check out the podcast with Anne Milton to hear what she had to say about the Apprenticeship Levy: