Dame Judith Hackitt has called the Apprenticeship Levy a ‘lose-lose’ and urged the Government to rethink its strategy, ahead of National Apprenticeship Week.
Dame Judith, chair of not-for-profit Semta made the call to action during her speech at the Semta Skills Awards in London on March 1.
Speaking just days before National Apprenticeship Week 2018 (March 5-9) Hackitt said that the new system, which finances apprenticeships, needed urgent radical reforms to reverse the ‘collapse’ of new start apprenticeships.
“We are not asking for the levy to be scrapped but it does need a rethink if it is to achieve what we all want and what the UK needs for the future.
“We have seen the number of new starts collapse with many companies postponing or halting apprenticeships. What should have been a win-win has become a lose-lose.”
She cited the cost of training as a deterrent to providers offering courses and called for “greater flexibility” amongst employers.
“To train the talented individuals we are going to see here tonight costs more that £27,000,” said Hackett.
“Providers are reluctant to offer courses, which cost more than the cap, so there is a need to recognise the true cost of different types of apprenticeship not have one simple cap.
“There needs to be greater flexibility for employers and providers to agree payment schedules especially in sectors like ours where upfront costs are high.
“The expiry date of funds needs to increase – an average engineering apprenticeship takes 48months.
“The rules on transfer of unused levy need to be relaxed – moving the current cap at 10% to 50% would stimulate Levy funds being used across supply chains.
“The levy should be used for what is says on the tin- Apprenticeships, without dilution to fund other training schemes.
In her closing statements, Hackett asked for the industry to work together to make the change easy to implement.
“The process of approval of apprenticeship standards must be streamlined,” she said.
“We know that the IFA has taken time to set up, but if we are to achieve the momentum we need on apprenticeships we cannot have the delays and deferrals, which we have been seeing.
“We all need to work together to make this as easy to implement as possible, not create unnecessary obstacles when we all want the same thing – more and more young people taking up apprenticeships.
“These conversations need to continue elsewhere – and urgently.”
Winners of the Semta Skills Awards were:
Apprentice of the year, sponsored by MBDA UK
Winner: Judith Mair, Rolls-Royce
Runners up: Joe Alistair Kennie, Yamazaki Mazak UK and Jay Ahmed, Ryder
Higher Apprentice of the Year sponsored by The Education & Training Foundation
Winner: Thomas French, KMF Group
Runners up: Rebecca Fisher, Rolls-Royce and Shannon Lynch, Jaguar Land Rover
Skills Champion of the Year sponsored by BAE Systems
Winner: Paul Fitzpatrick, Toyota Manufacturing (UK)
Runners up: Jayne Little, Skills 4 and Michelle Nolan-McSweeney, Network Rail
Skills Innovation of the Year sponsored by Siemens
Winner: Sharing in Growth
Runners up: Harlow Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Centre (HAMEC) and Robot Training Platform – Jaguar Land Rover in Collaboration with ABB and BlocDigital
Training Partner of the Year sponsored by Rolls-Royce
Winner: City College Plymouth
Runners up: Coleg Cambria and Babcock International Group in partnership with Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
SME Investment in Skills sponsored by Jaguar Land Rover
Runners up: Lander Automotive and Superior Seals
Technician of the Year sponsored by EAL
Winner: Andrew Franklin, Perkins Engines Company
Runners up: Ethan Davies, Electroimpact UK and Rob Naylor, Lockheed Martin UK
Diversity in Engineering sponsored by Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions
Winner: Siemens Rail Automation
Runners up: Babcock International Group and Transport for London