From education to employment


Mark Farrar, Chief Executive of AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians)

The apprenticeship picture doesn’t look particularly rosy when reading the National Audit Office’s report into the apprenticeship programme, published to tie in with National Apprenticeship Week.

It feels like it’s high time that the Government dropped this long-standing emphasis on three million apprenticeship starts by 2020, a figure that most commentators now deem to be impossible to reach, and put greater focus on where the funding should go.

Smaller businesses, who are not responsible for paying the apprenticeship levy, need to be brought much more into the equation if there is to be any tangible rise in starts and completions of high-quality apprenticeship schemes.

Just 19,150 companies are believed to have been eligible to pay the Apprenticeship Levy since its introduction in 2017 – that in a nation of 5.7 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

While this select band may be the companies with the biggest resources and who are best placed to incorporate schemes within their business, it seems ludicrous that 99% of British businesses are given far less focus when thinking about accelerating the apprenticeship drive.

The SME community easily represents the greatest pool to tap into when considering adult education and apprenticeship needs. Funding for skills in general – not just apprenticeships – should reflect this.

Mark Farrar, Chief Executive of AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians)

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