Apprenticeship Levy would penalise employers who already provide upskilling and subsidise ‘cut-cost’ training
UK-wide target of three million apprenticeships a year unrealistic and will undermine quality and number of genuine placements
March 31st: Speaking after an influential committee of MPs warned that Westminster’s flagship apprenticeship policy will not address the widening skills gap, Unite Regional Officer, Michael Keenan, said that this confirmed his union’s objections to the levy.
“Unite has warned repeatedly that the quality of vocational training offered to young people here has fallen substantially and that there is a growing skills gap which is not being addressed.
“Proposals were raised by the last Executive for the Apprenticeship Levy to be extended to Northern Ireland. In January we expressed our concern that this would penalise those employers who already provide upskilling and subsidise downgraded training schemes. Unfortunately our concerns now appear to be borne out by the sub-committee’s findings.”
The MPs sub-committee on education, skills and economy today (Friday 31 March) issued a report which says that the Government’s apprentice levy and its target of three million apprentice starts by the end of this Parliament ‘are blunt instruments that risk being unduly focused on simply raising participation levels’. The sub-committee claims that the skills gaps will not be filled unless the Government concentrates on sectors and regions where training is most needed. Mr Keenan continued,
“Only last week Unite raised concerns after Subway advertised for an ‘apprentice sandwich artist’ but was paying the national minimum wage apprentice rate of just £3.40 an hour.
“Many employers share our concerns, which have also been echoed by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Encouraging young people, their parents and teachers to consider an apprenticeship as a good career move means the ‘brand’ must be respected. Unite supports funding for a ‘gold standard’ in apprenticeships where apprentices develop fully transferrable skills”, Mr Keenan ended.