CBI urges ‘radical rethink’ of Apprenticeship Levy

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The government must open a dialogue with business to address concerns about the Apprenticeship Levy as an effective tool to deliver skills, according to Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general, CBI.

Addressing business leaders in the City of London today (28 April), Fairbairn will stress that “businesses are passionate about apprenticeships”, and that it is this passion that has “led to deep frustration over the levy plans as they currently stand”.

She will warn the government against “rushing out a poorly thought through plan” without first engaging those in business with experience of nurturing skills.

“Firms across the UK are emphatic that tackling skills shortages is the only way to succeed and create prosperity. They want to create quality apprenticeships and they’re ready to work with the government to do this,” she will say.

“But as it stands that’s not what the levy is doing. We need to change that, which is why we are calling for a ‘radical rethink’.”

The CBI is setting out three-step action plan to make the government’s skills agenda workable. They are:

  • 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.

Fairbairn will also praise the government’s drive to create three million apprenticeships by 2020, but call for a more coherent approach to achieving that aim.

“Business stands ready to help, advise and design a system that is fit for purpose. So let’s seize this opportunity and create change which will last several generations, not just a single administration,” she will add.