According to a new report published by education think tank EDSK half of apprenticeships started since the apprenticeship levy was introduced in May 2017 are “fake”.
The report called Runaway Training claims that £550 million of levy funding has been used to finance management training courses for experienced employees whilst £235 million of levy funding has been allocated to low-skill and generic roles such as working on a shop checkout, basic office administration, serving drinks in a bar and being part of an airline cabin crew which according to EDSK do not meet any established definition of an apprenticeship as they are advertised as offering minimal training and low wages. The report has also found a further £448 million has been used up on the “rebadging” of Bachelor degrees and Masters-level programmes as “apprenticeships”.
As of 6 April 2017, employers in England with a pay bill over £3 million each year must pay the apprenticeship levy of 0.5 per of their annual wage bill into an apprenticeship fund which is topped up by the government to finance training.
The key objectives of the levy were to increase apprenticeship numbers and boost investment in workplace training, which was in a 20-year decline when it was introduced. However according to the report the levy has “contributed to a significant drop” in the number of people beginning an apprenticeship in England. In the year prior to the levy coming into effect 564,800 learners started an apprenticeship however, this figure fell to 364,000 in the 12 months after it was introduced.
Facilities management services provider, ABM UK, is now in the third year of its Junior Engineering Engagement Programme (J.E.E.P.) which aims to tackle misperceptions amongst children and their parents of the facilities management (FM) industry and create a pipeline of future technical talent. Commenting on today’s news from EDSK, ABM UK Director, Adam Baker said: “While the report is damning, it’s sadly not surprising. From the start, the levy has been more about up-skilling than apprenticeships and herein lies the issue. It’s a case of renaming or rethinking.
“It’s vital that the reputation of the levy is protected because the spirit of it is something industry is desperate for; to do this it needs to be reworked to ensure goal posts are clear. For the FM industry and many others which rely on technical skills, the levy needs to at least in part force businesses to look at ways of attracting young people.”
EDSK’s Director, Tom Richmond said: “Despite being set up with the best intentions, the apprenticeship levy is now descending into farce. Instead of supporting the government’s efforts to improve technical education for young people, the evidence shows that some employers and universities are abusing the levy by rebadging existing training courses and degrees as ‘apprenticeships’ for their own financial gain.”
He added: “If the government wants apprenticeships to be taken seriously by young people, parents and teachers, they must protect this historic brand by scrapping all the ‘fake apprenticeships’ and benchmarking our training programmes against the best in the world. Not only will this save hundreds of millions each year, it will provide more opportunities for young people to train as genuine apprentices, especially those living in the most deprived areas.”
To read the report please click here.