Business groups call for reform as apprenticeship starts show biggest drop in six months

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The variety of apprenticeship begins dropped 40 per cent in February, based on the latest obtainable statistics from the federal government.

Figures present the variety of apprenticeship begins in February fell to 21,800 from 36,400 in the identical month final 12 months. The variety of begins was additionally down on the 27,600 reported in January, which is the most important drop recorded in six months.

Enterprise teams stated the figures confirmed the apprenticeship system will not be working they method it was alleged to.

1000’s of apprentices getting ‘shafted on pay day’

Jane Gratton, head of expertise on the British Chambers of Commerce, stated that with companies “crying out for expert employees”, apprenticeships ought to be part of the answer “however the system simply isn’t working”.

“For SMEs specifically, the brand new guidelines have added to the limitations, complexity and value of recruiting and coaching employees. For bigger corporations, the inflexibility of the system has made it tough to spend their levy funds as they see greatest, making it really feel extra like a tax, and leaving much less cash obtainable to pay for the coaching individuals want,” she stated.

“Companies need to make investments extra in upskilling their workforce, and to supply nice profession alternatives for younger individuals, however this method is holding everybody again.”

Ms Gratton stated there’s “consensus throughout the UK enterprise group” that the apprenticeship levy wants reform. For the time being, UK employers with an annual pay invoice of greater than £3m pay zero.5 per cent of that invoice to fund apprentices.

“We aren’t asking for a whole overhaul – everybody needs this method to work higher. Every month the variety of apprenticeships is falling, so now must be the time for presidency to work with enterprise and coaching suppliers to type issues out,” she stated.

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In the meantime, Seamus Nevin, head of coverage analysis on the Institute of Administrators, agreed that it was time for the federal government to step in.

“How way more proof does the federal government want earlier than it takes motion? Whereas the motivation behind the coverage is laudable, the execution is flawed,” he stated. “If we need to enhance expertise, productiveness and wages in our financial system then the system should be reformed. Companies ought to be afforded the pliability to put money into extra tailor-made programs. Corporations want longer to spend the cash to allow them to apply it to the apprenticeships of biggest worth. Bigger firms may be allowed to transmit extra of the funds down their provide chain to the place it’s most wanted.”

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