The Chancellor has confirmed an overhaul of the apprenticeship system to create 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020 via an apprenticeship levy to raise £3bn a year.
It will be set at 0.5% of the payroll bill. But there will be a £15,000 allowance, so 98% of employers will not pay.
While applauding the Government’s overarching goal to help fill a huge skills gap. Adam Walsh, business director of The Right Fuelcard Training Company (TRFC) – which became so frustrated with apprenticeship providers that it created its own recruitment arm, The Bayford Foundation, in 2013 – seriously questions whether providers who have secured government contracts to identify, recruit and report apprentices’ progress – are up to the job.
Since last November, we’ve tried to recruit six apprentices, only to be sorely let down by several providers.
A major priority for the government is to invest in ensuring a sound support system for host-companies and apprentices themselves. Perhaps far fewer, but far better performing providers would be easier to appoint, manage, assess.
Employers seeking apprentices would likewise be advised to obtain undertakings to ensure that providers live up to their promises and agree firm schedules of action and achievements by which they will be assessed and paid. They should likewise seek guarantees of an uninterrupted service, should the providers be taken over or fail.
Ultimately the failures to see through apprenticeships to productive conclusions are bad for the nation, inconvenient and costly for employers and let down the very people they are meant to motivate, support and develop.