John Cope, CBI Head of Education and Skills policy

The Government must give the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) the independence and clout it needs to reform and regulate the English skills system.  That’s according to the first of a 2019 series of CBI apprenticeship reports – Getting Apprenticeships Right: Next Steps.

To its credit, the Government has already undertaken significant steps to evolve the apprenticeship system and is listening to businesses’ calls for continued reform in this area.  A second wave of Government action is now needed to ensure apprenticeships lead to high-skilled, high-paid jobs, that fit firms’ needs now and in the future. 

Key report recommendations include:

  1. Government making clear that the IfA is the principal body for vocational skills in England with the clout to hold policymakers and the skills sector to account
  2. The IfA must take further steps to speed up the apprenticeship standards approval process so that businesses can start using them
  3. With employer levy funds due to start expiring from April 2019, the Government must urgently set up an appeals system that gives employers longer to spend their money where apprenticeship standards remain in development
  4. With the IfA assuming responsibility for T-levels and higher T-levels, it should set out a clear vision of how they will fit in the skills system, giving employers and the public greater confidence in them.

John Cope, CBI Head of Education and Skills policy, said:

“This business-backed blueprint needs to be taken seriously to make sure the English skills system supports, rather than frustrates, employers offering a first step to people in their career. This must include giving the Institute for Apprenticeships the independence and clout it needs to create a world class skills system in England.

“The Government should be given credit for its commitment to skills reform. What’s clear is that both they and businesses understand the need for high-quality apprenticeships in every sector for our economy to flourish.”   

Getting Apprenticeships Right: Next Steps is the first of series of reports on the apprenticeships & skills system that the CBI will be publishing in 2019. The report sets out a clear vision for the Institute for Apprenticeships as a genuine market regulator, with actions for Government and the Institute.

Apprenticeship Levy reform remains one of the CBI’s key priorities.  In the 2018, the Government delivered on four CBI ideas, including additional resource for the IfA and a review of the operation of the apprenticeship levy after 2020.

About the CBI: Across the UK, the CBI speaks on behalf of 190,000 businesses of all sizes and sectors. The CBI’s corporate members together employ nearly 7 million people, about one third of private sector-employees. With offices in the UK as well as representation in Brussels, Washington, Beijing and Delhi, the CBI communicates the British business voice around the world.

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