ISE Chief Executive Stephen Isherwood

Government must provide “stability, transparency, flexibility and employer ownership” if the apprenticeship reforms are to deliver on their aims, says the Institute of Student Employers (ISE).

A new report launching today (16 July) from the ISE provides employer recommendations for improving the apprenticeship system.

It follows government confirmation that it will miss its target of three million apprenticeships in England by 2020.

The report explains the challenges faced by ISE members - some of the UK’s largest employers of apprentices who typically spend more than double the national average of their levy - which are preventing the reforms from meeting targets and increasing the skill level of the UK workforce.

Highlighting challenges related to funding, bureaucracy, implementation and perception, the report sets out solutions and recommendations for government to improve the current system.

ISE Chief Executive Stephen Isherwood said:

“Businesses are best placed to understand the skills needed to drive productivity, but while the government claims commitment to putting employers in the driving seat of apprenticeships, this is not evident.

“We are very concerned about the range of voices that are calling for radical changes to the system or for its destruction and replacement by something new.

“The real work around apprenticeships happens in businesses across the country. Implementation is not straightforward. It requires employers to invest heavily and manage a lot of complexity. Any change will cost business and it can’t be done overnight. Closer collaboration with government and greater transparency are not just a requirement, they’re a necessity if the system is to have any hope of achieving what it set out to do.”

10 recommendations to fix the apprenticeship system

  1. Ensure stability in the apprenticeship system
  2. The levy should not be a payroll tax
  3. Double the levy ‘expiry date’
  4. Increase levy flexibility
  5. Join-up the apprenticeship systems in different UK nations
  6. Support higher and degree level apprenticeships
  7. Review the way apprenticeship standards are created and developed
  8. Increase the flexibility in off-the-job training
  9. Celebrate how apprenticeships can transform careers for everyone
  10. Promote apprenticeships across the education system

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