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  • High quality industry apprenticeships must be safeguarded by the new levy

Since the government announced its intention to introduce an apprenticeship levy, EAL and Enginuity have undertaken detailed consultation with employers about the implications for industry apprenticeships.  Earlier this month we submitted a combined consultation response for the Enginuity Group, highlighting specific concerns and recommendations from industry employers.

Apprenticeships in our sectors provide direct, rigorous and effective pathways to careers in industry.  EAL qualifications form the backbone of industry apprenticeship frameworks and act as a guarantee to current and future employers that each apprentice has the fundamental skills needed to perform effectively in their roles and progress within their companies.  This continues to be an express requirement of employees in our sectors.  Apprentices are given the opportunity to flourish, develop relevant skills and a genuine understanding of the workplace and achieve an employer nationally recognised standard by the end of their apprenticeship.   

Any changes to the apprenticeship infrastructure must protect and enhance what we, as a sector, have developed and invested in over many years.  We cannot run the risk of lessening the quality of apprenticeships and therefore the vital contribution industry apprentices make each and every day.

Therefore our response to government makes it clear that apprenticeship opportunities should not be limited to those available with larger employers.  Many SMEs and supply chain companies across our sector rely on the contribution of their apprentices and reap the benefits of being able to train them from day one, focusing on skills and specific competencies that are relevant to their business.  The levy system must be flexible and responsive enough to ensure funded apprenticeships are offered by companies of all sizes.

The nature of industry careers mean our apprenticeships are both specialised and in-depth.  Rigorous apprenticeships lasting four years are not unusual, so it’s crucial that the levy system takes into account industry apprenticeships may not be completed in one or two years.

We also need a system which promotes, rather than stifles, growth.  Employers must be able to employ as many people as they need to deliver and expand their business.  It is not yet clear if a cap on apprentices, per employer, will be introduced.  For employers wanting to take on more apprentices than levy funding allows, we advocate a sectoral approach is taken.  This would allow any unspent levy funding to be diverted to support other sector employers, particularly SMEs and supply chain employers, and protect the funding needed to develop skills in the sector as a whole.

Overall our consultation with employers points to a strong belief in taking a sectoral approach to ensure employer confidence in the system and safeguard the high quality apprenticeships already available in industry. 

We hope, as the finer details of the apprenticeship levy are mapped out, government will take account of and work with organisations like EAL and Enginuity , such that they can access and respond to the views of industry employers. 

We need to keep talking to make sure we get it right for industry now and for future generations of industry apprentices.