Apprenticeship levy blamed for fall in apprenticeships

Apprenticeship starts are falling because of the apprenticeship levy, which needs to be made more flexible, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Figures published by the Department for Education show there has been a 24% fall in apprenticeship starts for the 2017/18 academic year compared with the previous academic year.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “From April 2019, large firms will be allowed to pass 25% of levy vouchers down through the supply chain to smaller firms but the FMB is calling for this to be increased to 100%.

“This is an important change because in construction, it’s the smaller firms that train more than two thirds of all apprentices. Conversely, large firms don’t tend to directly employ or train tradespeople. If the government is serious about creating three million quality apprenticeships by 2020, it must ensure the apprenticeship levy works for the construction industry.”

Brian said the current situation is at odds with the UK’s post-Brexit immigration system.

“We need to be training more UK-born apprentices to reduce future reliance on migrant workers from Europe or else the construction sector will grind to a halt,” he said. “We need tens of thousands more apprentices and tens of thousands of migrant construction workers – of all skill levels.”