From education to employment

More flexibility for levy-paying employers who choose to take on apprentices

NEW measures giving levy-paying employers greater financial flexibility over how they train new and existing staff using apprenticeships have been welcomed by Progress to Excellence Ltd.

An extra £90m of government funding, announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond, will enable businesses to invest a quarter of their Apprenticeship Levy funds on people working for organisations in their supply chain. The move has been designed to increase the number of people able to benefit from high-quality apprenticeship training.

A further £5m will go to the Institute for Apprenticeships to introduce new standards and updating existing ones so that more courses can be offered.

The old frameworks will also be discontinued so that all new apprenticeships will be on the same higher-quality standards by the start of the 2020/21 academic year.

During the coming weeks the government will begin a consultation process to seek views on the operation of the levy after 2020 to ensure it supports the development of business needs for a skilled workforce.

Damian Burdin, Chief Executive at Progress to Excellence Ltd, said:

“As one of the country’s biggest training providers, we have always believed in the power of apprenticeships as a vital investment for the future of the UK economy.

“The Chancellor has obviously listened to the concerns expressed by business leaders regarding the levy, and has now introduced this welcome package of measures designed to give more flexibility. This means that employers can now take full advantage of apprenticeship training. The changes will also help as many people as possible into the right training, benefiting both new staff and existing employees who want to further their careers.

“For employers, this is a great step in the right direction to support their apprenticeship training programmes. These changes introducing this flexibility, will assist long term plans for growth and sustainability, helping to contribute to a mood of optimism for the future.”

Since May 2015 there have been more than 1.4 million apprenticeship start-ups in the UK, with 119,500 starts in the first three-quarters of 2017/18. This figure is more than 10 times higher than the same period the previous year.

Changes to the levy have been well received by the Institute of Directors whose Director General, Stephen Martin, said the Chancellor’s business-friendly tone would be welcomed by firms.

Stephen said: “IoD members have long called for change to the levy system and the introduction of greater flexibility over the use of funds will be celebrated, as will the promise of further engagement.”

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