Walker celebrates improvements to apprenticeship levy

Robin Walker, MP for Worcester and a huge supporter of apprenticeships locally has welcomed the Government’s announcement on how apprenticeships will be funded as part of the drive to help millions get the skills they need for a successful career and make Britain a country that works for everyone.

Apprenticeships give people more control over their lives and can be the difference between just about managing and pursuing a skilled, long-term career. The government wants to give everyone this opportunity, regardless of their background or where they live, which is why they are giving more support for 16- to 18-year-olds and those from disadvantaged areas.

The funding policy will underpin the new apprenticeship levy, which will deliver much needed investment in the skills we need to change the lives of millions.

 The key features of the announcement are:

  • Higher funding for STEM apprenticeship frameworks and higher pricing of apprenticeship standards to support improved quality, and greater flexibility to train those with prior qualifications.
  • Longer period of time for employers to spend funds in their digital account, now with 24 months before they expire, an increase from our original proposal of just 18 months.
  • A commitment to introducing the ability for employers to transfer digital funds to other employers in their supply chains, sector or to Apprenticeship Training Agencies in 2018, with a new employer group including the Confederation of British Industry, Federation of Small Businesses, British Chambers of Commerce, Charity Finance Group and EEF – the Manufacturers’ Organisation – to help government develop this system so that it works for employers.
  • 90% contribution from government to the cost of training for employers that will not pay the levy.
  • 100% contribution from government to the cost of training for small employers that will not pay the levy and who take on apprentices who are 16 to 18 years old, 19 to 24 year old care leavers or 19 to 24 year olds with an Education and Health Care Plan.
  • £1,000 each from government to employers and training providers when they take on 16 to 18 year olds, 19 to 24 year olds who were in care or who have an Education and Health Care Plan.
  • Help for training providers to adapt to the new, simpler funding model through an additional cash payment equal to 20% of the funding band maximum where they train 16 to 18 year olds on frameworks, and a simplified version of the current system of support for people from disadvantaged areas to ensure the opportunity to undertake an apprenticeship is open to everyone, no matter where in England they live, their background or family circumstances.

Robin was a member of the all-party group for Apprenticeships and the all-party group for Youth Employment. As a member of the BIS Select Committee in the last Parliament he scrutinised the Government’s apprenticeship policy and as the former PPS to the then Education Secretary he supported her in her drive to ensure apprenticeships deliver valuable education and qualifications as well as to reform careers advice to strengthen the understanding of apprenticeships.

He ran his own 100 in 100 campaign and put on an Apprenticeship and Enterprise Fair in conjunction with the Worcester News in the last Parliament and helped local companies to recruit hundreds more apprentices.

Skills Minister Robert Halfon said:

“Apprenticeships work. The reforms we are rolling out will guarantee support from employers and government, so that millions of people can get the apprenticeships, skills and jobs for the future.”

“Our apprenticeship levy will boost our economic productivity, increase our skills base and give millions a leg up on the ladder of opportunity – over 90% of apprentices currently go into work or further training. Making Britain a world leader on apprenticeships is essential if we truly want a country that works for everyone.”

Robin said:

“I know that local businesses in Worcester value apprenticeships enormously and we have a number of great business success stories where the boss started as an apprentice. Over the last few years many of the businesses I’ve met in Worcester and around the country have welcome the Government’s ambition to create millions more apprenticeship opportunity but some have raised concerns about how the levy will work. As a member of the BIS Select Committee and then as PPS to the Education Secretary and as a Minister, I heard and echoed some of those concerns and I am delighted that today’s announcement shows the Government taking action on them.”

“In particular I welcome the ability for companies to share their unspent apprenticeship funding with firms in their supply chain- this is crucial to making the system work and sharing the benefits of it effectively. I have no doubt that this will both benefit many businesses in Worcester directly and help us with the wider aim of driving up both quality and quantity of apprenticeships. Apprenticeships and skills can play a vital role in making the UK more competitive and more productive as we leave the EU and I welcome these developments in that context too.”

Notes to Editors:

To read the Skills Minister’s announcement: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-apprenticeship-funding-to-transform-investment-in-skills

To read Robin’s previous press releases on apprenticeships: http://www.walker4worcester.com/category/campaigns/apprenticeships/

To read the Federation of Master Builder’s commentary:

http://www.fmb.org.uk/about-the-fmb/newsroom/greater-flexibility-for-apprenticeship-levy-funding-is-welcome/