Employers are concerned that the quality of vocational training will be diminished by the government’s plans to fund apprenticeships through a levy on large employers.

Three million new apprenticeships will be created from the funds by 2020, George Osborne announced in the Summer Budget this week, claiming that the “radical” approach is long overdue, with too many large companies taking advantage of the training apprentices have received elsewhere.

George Osborne said:

“The money will be directly controlled by employers and we’ll work with business on how to do this, it’s exactly the sort of bold step we need to take if Britain is going to raise its game.”

John Cridland, CBI Director-General, commented:

“In the past, the training delivered by levy approaches has often been costly and not linked to the needs of businesses and learners. The real solution to more quality apprenticeships lies in giving greater control over content to businesses working together in partnership.

“The push towards vocational training and confirmation of 3million new apprenticeships will again provide only a short term solution as demand for jobs on qualification continues to rise.  Incentives to go into Higher Education (once a Labour standard) have been all but cut and the proposed (if confusing) new £7.20 ‘national living wage’ will only apply to those aged over 25.”

Chris Jones, Chief Executive of the City & Guilds Group, said:

“We welcome the Chancellor’s support for apprenticeships in today’s Budget Statement. Sustainable long-term funding solutions, such as the proposed apprenticeship levy for large firms, will be critical to not only meeting the three million apprenticeship target, but making sure each and every apprenticeship is high quality.

“With the annual productivity gains from training an apprentice at £10,280 per year, the investment is well worth it. However, if this new levy is implemented, it must be done in a way that does not impose additional bureaucracy on businesses, and does not discourage employers from supporting on-the-job training in their companies.

“It is also important that support for would-be apprentices does not overshadow the need to help people up the ladder at every stage of their careers, including later in life. Today we are disappointed that the Chancellor was silent on the need to boost provision for over-19s in areas such as vocational qualifications and employability support. We also need alternatives to a purely academic curriculum at 14 or 15 – again, something that wasn’t covered.”