As reported previously, in April this year the apprenticeship levy came into force. This introduced a 0.5% levy on employers with payrolls over £3million. The aim is to raise £3bn annually for four years to fund apprenticeship places.
However recently announced Department of Education figures have put the target of 3 million apprenticeships by 2020 in doubt. Instead of an increase in the number of apprenticeships, the number starting an apprenticeship in the summer of 2017 was only 48,000, less than half the 117,000 who started in 2016.
Critics have blamed poor implementation of the plan with employers struggling to access funding and understand the complex rules. Only 2% of firms are large enough to be liable to pay the levy but smaller firms that employ between 50 and 200 staff partaking in the scheme have been put off by the new obligation to release their apprentices for one day a week off-site training and to contribute 10% of these training costs.
One thing’s for sure, if the figures don’t increase soon the Government will need to reconsider how it will meet its aim of 3 million apprenticeship starts in England by 2020.