DfE report shows apprenticeships continue to drop

The Department for Education’s research on apprenticeships shows that their uptake has dropped 28% since the levy was introduced

The Department for Education has published its Apprenticeships and levy statistics: June 2018 report and the findings show that the number of apprenticeships is continuing to fall – which is bad news for the ever-widening skills gap issue within many industries, including education.

The levy – introduced last year – was intended to encourage the uptake of apprenticeships. It has, however, been criticised for being complicated and unmanageable for some employers.

Numbers of apprenticeships are down 28% this year, the report shows, and employers have used only 10% of the funds since the levy was introduced.

The City & Guilds Group has now called upon the government to help employers by allowing more flexibility in how the apprenticeship levy is spent. Greater flexibility is vital to ensure apprenticeships remain a viable skills solution for businesses.

City & Guilds launched a piece last week, entitled People Power, which found that nine out of 10 employers suffer from skills gaps, which hampers their productivity and ability to grow.

Kirstie Donnelly MBE, MD of City & Guilds and ILM, said:

“We are fully supportive of the new apprenticeship system as a tool to enable career progression at all levels and to help employers fill skills gaps and shortages. And of course, we must not write-off a new system with so much potential before it has had the chance to get established.

“However, we equally cannot ignore the signs that the system as it is currently structured clearly isn’t working for many employers.

“We believe more must be done by government now to inject some momentum back into apprenticeships and build confidence in a skills system that provides high-quality technical pathways and creates a better-skilled workforce. We have heard from employers and employer bodies that they would welcome increased flexibility in how the apprenticeship levy is used. It is critical that government listens to their voices now if the system is to succeed in the future.

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“We believe that unless steps are taken to directly address this issue now, we will never be able to reduce the skills gaps and skills shortages faced by so many UK industries.”

Donnelly continued:

“A one-size-fits-all solution simply doesn’t work for employers. We need to see much better analysis of the figures to understand which sectors, in particular, are struggling with the current system and where the drops in starts are coming from. With that understanding, the government can then look at interventions for specific sectors and types of apprenticeships where more support is needed.”

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