The Government must collaborate with business to ‘radically rethink’ the design of the apprenticeship levy, if it is to deliver the quality skills training needed to support a more prosperous society, CBI Director-General Carolyn Fairbairn, warned this week. She highlighted that businesses are committed to raising skill levels and support the Government’s ambition to boost apprentice numbers, but that there are growing concerns among firms about the current design and viability of the system.
Carolyn said that the Government has the opportunity to create a “once-in-a-generation revolution” in skills, but it is currently only likely to deliver another “once-in-an-administration shake-up.”
Speaking to an audience of business leaders in the City of London, she said that: “Firms are passionate about apprenticeships, and it’s this passion which drives deep frustration over the levy plans as they currently stand.”
She emphasised that the Government must “take the time to draw on business’ vast experience to make sure that the levy works for everyone, rather than rushing out a poorly thought through plan. This isn’t what businesses want, and we don’t believe it is what Government wants either.”
The CBI is calling for:
- A stronger role for the new Institute for Apprenticeships – include measuring and managing the system around the levy;
- More flexibility in how firms can spend the levy – including on existing training and high-quality support for apprentices;
- The digital system which manages levy spend must be ready and able to support the delivery of apprenticeship training which businesses need, in full and from the start.