From education to employment

Over a quarter of small business apprentice employers in England feel that 2017 reforms have had a negative impact


#NationalApprenticeshipWeek – @FSB_Policy is calling on Government to secure the long-term future of #apprenticeships

Government must deliver on apprentice pledges now to safeguard their future. Federation of Small Businesses research found that over a quarter of small business apprentice employers in England feel that 2017 reforms have had a negative impact.

Apprenticeship starts across England have decreased to 125,800 from 132,000 in Q1 of 2018/19 compared to the same period a year before, a decrease of 4.7%. 

However there are concerns that the apprenticeship system, and in particular small businesses, are facing a crisis if the apprenticeship levy funding on which they depend is exhausted.

Federation of Small Businesses National Chair Mike Cherry, said:

“The Government pledged during the general election campaign that they would improve the Apprenticeship Levy and now is the time to act.  

“Small businesses play a critical role in delivering on the government’s levelling up ambitions with around nine in ten apprenticeships currently being offered by small businesses held by 16-24 year olds.

“Urgent action is needed to ensure sufficient funding for small businesses in order to be able to continue offering apprenticeships. Whilst we welcome the manifesto commitment of a £3 billion national skills fund for the next five years, if this is used to top up apprenticeship funding for SMEs, there will be little remaining for the equally important priority of adult retraining.

“In addition to an injection of cash for SMEs, we also need to see the reduction in co-investment costs for training from 10% to 5%. More than a third of small business employers of apprentices say costs related to the recruitment and training of apprentices have increased since the 2017 reforms were implemented.

“The upcoming budget and spending review are vital for addressing these issues so that funds do not run out for non-levy payers, and that the initiative is put on a sustainable footing for the future. We have had enough of stop-start in this area of policy.

“Small firms have long been champions of apprentices and the benefits they can bring, but if we are to address the persistent skills shortages and gaps that are damaging growth and productivity we must prevent apprenticeships becoming an opportunity which is only open to those who can afford it.”

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