In wake of the EU referendum, funding for apprenticeships and adult training ‘will increase’.

young professionals

The UK’s recent decision to leave the EU will not change the timing or nature of the apprenticeship levy, according to Nick Boles, skills minister. People Management reported that Boles said the levy that comes in to place in April 2017 would go ahead despite speculation that businesses cite Brexit to justify the delay.

He said: 'My officials in government will continue to work on the basis that the levy will come in as planned and to the timeframe planned. We should all continue to assume and work on the assumption that the apprenticeship levy is coming in, in the way it was [intended].

“We had planned to publish further detailed information about the pricing of specific apprenticeship standards in the next few days. I’m sure you will understand that is now going to be a little delayed, but only a little.”

Traineeships and apprenticeships are vital to the economy and speaking at the Association of Employment and Learning Providers National Conference 2016 in London, Boles emphasised the significance of skills development and investing in to it.

He added: “It is even more vital now the UK is not in the EU. There is going to be more money going into apprenticeships, and adult training funding is also secure.'

However, new research by the CIPD reveals that, although the Government’s Apprenticeship Levy is likely to boost the overall number of apprenticeships, it risks undermining overall apprenticeship quality and wider investment in workforce training and development. It warned that the apprenticeship levy is a ‘blunt instrument’ to tackle workplace skills as only 1 in 4 employers plan to use levy funding to invest in apprenticeships.

In addition to this, the report also revealed that almost 3 in 10 (28%) of employers do not expect to use levy funding to develop or enhance apprenticeship programmes, and almost 4 in 10 (39%) don’t know where they stand on it. Over a quarter (26%) of employers do not know whether they are expected to pay the levy when it comes in, and only a third of those who expect to pay it (31%) have calculated how much it will cost them each year.

Overall, less than 1 in 10 employers (9%) expect to use levy funding to develop a new apprenticeship programme, while almost one in five (18%) say they will use levy funding to enhance their existing apprenticeship programme.

Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD commented: “We share the Government’s ambition to increase the number and quality of apprenticeships in the UK. However, our research suggests while the levy will boost apprenticeship numbers among some employers, the majority of organisations, particularly SMEs, are unlikely to use levy funding to improve apprenticeship provision. Our research also finds that the levy could have damaging, unintended consequences.

“These findings highlight that the levy is a blunt instrument providing employers with a ‘one size fits all approach’ to training, forcing many larger employers to make a net contribution to a scheme that our research shows will suit only relatively few.

“The evidence in our report suggests that the levy could undermine apprenticeship quality by encouraging some employers to invest in intermediate level apprenticeships at the expense of advanced and higher level programmes, as a way of maximising the amount of funding that they can reclaim. This risks further devaluing the apprenticeship brand and preventing young people from regarding apprenticeships as a meaningful alternative to university.”