Lack of Flexibility Seen as Obstacle to Apprenticeship Levy’s Success

Lack of Flexibility Seen as Obstacle to Apprenticeship Levy’s Success

The UK’s controversial apprenticeship levy, which came into effect on April 6, has been widely criticized by some employers and business groups as a fundamentally flawed, albeit well-intentioned, plan for developing the domestic workforce. The scheme proposes to fund 3 million places for apprentices throughout the UK by taxing organizations with annual payrolls of over £3 million, but its critics say it is unlikely to work as advertised. As a new report makes clear, one reason for that skepticism is that the definition of “apprenticeships” eligible for funding under the levy is insufficiently flexible, Marianne Calnan reports at People Management:

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), which represents those who deliver training to apprentices, said the requirement for 20 per cent of apprentices’ training to take place ‘off the job’ was insufficiently flexible for employers. It found that just 13 per cent of training was currently delivered off-the-job, and said employers that were new to apprenticeships felt losing an apprentice for an average of a day each week would restrict the number of apprenticeships they were prepared to offer. …

AELP said the rules around off-the-job training did not go far enough to address the differing needs of employers and apprentices across different industries. It suggested allowing other forms of training to count towards the 20 per cent total, including: training in the workplace that takes place in a separate training room, effective training and coaching at the apprentice’s own workstation, blended learning and the English and Maths coaching that is currently mandated for all apprentices.

Other studies have warned that the levy could encourage employers to simply rebrand their existing training programs rather than developing genuine apprenticeships, while many plan to reduce their training budgets to cover the cost of the levy, effectively undercutting any positive impact it might have on learning and development.