Apprenticeship levy

The government should abandon its target of three million apprenticeships in the UK by 2020 in order to focus on the quality of the actual qualifications, according to think tank Reform.

In a report reviewing the first year of the tax, called 'The Great Training Robbery: Assessing the first year of the apprenticeship levy',  Reform said measuring the success of apprenticeships by quantity over quality is the "wrong approach".

It argues that the target of 3 million in apprenticeships by 2020 is "driving employers and training providers to accelerate the delivery of new apprenticeship standards before a solid foundation has been placed underneath".

Union Unite's response to the report was to call on employers to up their game on apprenticeship scheme quality.

Reacting to a suggestion in Reform's report that some employers may be rebranding low-skilled jobs as apprenticeships, Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “It is paramount that there is a new generation of young skilled workers to underpin future growth in the economy.

“History tells us that not enough employers are stepping up to the plate to offer the high quality apprenticeships that the UK so desperately needs to tackle the UK skills gap and shortages."

Cartmail also raised a concern that the new report, written from an anti-levy perspective, could be used as an argument against the levy.

She said:  “There is a concern that this study from a centre-right think tank could be used as an argument for employers not to pay into the apprenticeship levy.

“We believe that this would be very wrong as the levy should be robustly assessed, in particular its impact on the ability of SMEs to provide good quality apprenticeships on the scale prior to the levy’s introduction.”