From education to employment

Don’t water down the value of Apprenticeships to achieve higher numbers, it’s a false economy

Adrian Grove, Business Development Director of Recruitment and Training Solutions Provider, Qube Learning

Adrian Grove, Business Development Manager @QubeLearning, pushes back against short term fixes suggested by the British Retail Consortium

In a letter sent to Secretary of State for Education, Nadhim Zahawi MP, last month, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) called for changes to the Apprenticeship Levy in the next Spring Statement. The BRC requests three main changes to the levy, which it says would allow more training to be offered and reduce from levy accounts being wasted.

In response, Adrian Grove, Business Development Director, Qube Learning, warns government:

“It is critical that government does not water down the value of Apprenticeships to achieve higher take up or opportunities short-term. Increases will be short lived, and numbers will drop quickly if candidates aren’t well trained.

“Apprenticeships are a hugely valuable section of the UK workforce, and to reduce the quality of workers by thinning out the learning provision will have a detrimental impact on British industry for decades to come.”

The BRC’s three key requests are opposed by Qube Learning as follows:

Shortening courses from the current minimum of one year

The current rules stipulate minimum of one year, and Qube Learning believes this to be crucial for achieving quality and impact in an Apprenticeship and reducing their duration could turn employers off in the long term.

Adrian says: “It would be a challenge to reduce the length of programme for an Apprenticeship unless you remove content and then you water down both the quality and the value of completing an Apprenticeship.

“Employers already face many challenges in releasing Apprentices for their 20% ‘off the job study’ and alongside the time required with their tutors. By shoehorning the current content of Apprenticeships into a more compact programme, both employer and Apprentice would suffer, and additional tutor visits would be required. All this could potentially have the opposite effect on how retailers see Apprenticeships over time.”

Levy to cover associated training costs

Whilst Apprentices are completing their training, they should be still adding value to the business. Using levy funds assigned to Apprentices to cover gaps in transport or backfilling roles to free up staff for off-site training is a waste of funds set aside for upskilling those individual candidates.

Adrian says:

“This particular request from the BRC would be complex to administer and police, so I am unsure that this will be welcomed by the State of Education. Whilst Apprentices are completing their 20% off the job training, rarely should this activity take them away from the workplace or the salesfloor.”

Widen range of courses supported with Levy funds

Mandatory training should not be covered through the levy rather from the employers training budget – this is not what the funding is designed for, and it is needed for Apprenticeships specifically. Additionally, there are already in place various other funding streams that could fund shorter and a more varied range of courses, such as AEB or Advanced Learner Loans.

Adrian says:

“I could see this having a real impact on the number of employers engaging in Apprenticeships, and I would be interested to know which courses the BRC would consider should be funded from an adapted ‘Skills Levy’.

“What I wouldn’t want to see happening is mandatory training being covered through the levy rather from the employers training budget. Perhaps if there were internal training development programmes that meet the greater needs of the business and where there is no Apprenticeship alternative, this could be funded through a skills levy.

Related Articles