EEF has today joined forces with other industry bodies and charities to push the government once more to delay the apprenticeship levy.
Regular blog readers will be aware of our recent calls to delay the apprenticeship levy. Manufacturers have been vocal in their calls to delay the apprenticeship levy with almost three-quarters saying it should be delayed until it is fit for purpose.
But that was months ago, before Brexit and before the very much delayed funding guidance. The mandate from industry to delay the apprenticeship levy is stronger than ever.
And we are clearly not alone. Today, we signed a letter alongside major business and charity organisations calling for a delay. In the letter, addressed to the new Secretary of State, we highlighted some major concerns.
Some of the major sticking points around the levy
- The economic uncertainty created following the EU referendum result
- The increasing costs that employers face, specifically relating to payroll
- The major delays to the levy funding guidance, without which employers cannot plan for the future
- The lack of information for those out of scope of the apprenticeship levy
- The availability of updated PAYE software systems before the planned April 2017 introduction
- The minimal functionalities of the new Digital Apprenticeship System
- The inability to transfer vouchers to other organisations
The list could go on!
We love apprenticeships - we want to protect quality
Our industry is passionate about high quality apprenticeships and we want to see more of them. However, if the Government pushes ahead with its current timetable for the apprenticeship levy we could see a decline in both the quality and quantity of apprenticeships.
A decline in quality of apprenticeships is something that CIPD picked up in their recent research on the levy. This will do nothing for the apprenticeship brand or the Government’s ambitious 3 million target.
We've got solutions to some of the problems
Industry and others have come up with solutions to some of the major sticking points of the apprenticeship levy. Some, which we have mentioned before including:
- Extending the sunset clause on vouchers beyond 18 months
- Tackling "business as usual activities" within the new Digital Apprenticeship System before it goes live
- Giving employers control to agree payment schedules with their providers
- Use alternative funding to pay for basic English and maths
- Allow employers to give control of the new system to external agents
But these require more time. A delay to implementation is vital if we are to successfully get this policy back on track, avoid hitting business with additional costs at a highly uncertain time and ensure that the apprenticeship levy fits in fully with a wider industrial strategy.
You can read the full letter to the Secretary of State below. The letter is signed by the following organisations:
British Plastics Federation
British Printing Industries Federation
Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE)
Charity Finance Group
Chemical Industries Association
Food and Drink Federation
Institute of Directors
Manufacturing Technologies Association