The apprenticeships programme Contents

Summary

Successive governments have considered apprenticeships to be a key way of developing skills and improving productivity. The Department for Education (the Department) is managing the early stages of a complex transition process to make the apprenticeships programme more employer-led, including introducing a levy on larger employers and asking employer groups to design a new ‘standard’—a statement of the skills and knowledge to be acquired—for every apprenticeship. The Department’s only real success measure is to facilitate 3 million new apprenticeship starts between 2015 and 2020. The process for introducing the new set of apprenticeship standards appears to be slow, and the large number of new standards likely to be developed may be confusing for some sectors and employers. We are concerned that the introduction of the levy may incentivise some employers to exploit the system, for example by artificially routing other forms of training into apprenticeships or hiring apprentices as a way to avoid paying the minimum wage. This would diminish the potential benefits of the programme and damage its reputation.





25 November 2016