Labour to place ‘businesses in the driving seat’ with reformed apprenticeship levy | EUROtoday

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Labour has restated its pledge to reform the prevailing apprenticeship levy, promising companies extra flexibility about how they spend authorities cash.

Bridget Phillipson, the shadow training secretary, stated {that a} new progress and abilities levy would give companies “greater flexibility to invest in training courses that meet their skills needs, turbocharging investment in skills for the future”. She stated that companies are “crying out for help to tackle skills shortages”.

The announcement comes days after Labour was seen courting bosses, asking them to declare their assist for the reformed levy, in accordance with Sky News.

On Tuesday, a public letter in assist of the celebration which 120 firm chiefs signed precipitated a row over Labour’s declare to be the “party of business”, after some signatories have been allegedly related to dormant companies.

Bridget Phillipson has restated Labour’s pledge to reform the existing apprenticeship levy
Bridget Phillipson has restated Labour’s pledge to reform the prevailing apprenticeship levy (Getty Images)

Ms Phillipson stated: “Businesses are crying out for help to tackle skills shortages, so Labour will give them the flexibility needed to create skills training opportunities and drive economic growth through a growth and skills levy.

“Unlike the Tories’ botched apprenticeships levy which has seen training opportunities plummet, Labour will put businesses in the driving seat of creating the opportunities people need to get on in work.

“The choice on 4th July is between a Conservative Party that has given up on upskilling the nation and Labour that will see in a golden age in lifelong learning so that everyone can get on and fire the growth our economy needs.”

According to authorities figures, the variety of apprenticeship begins dropped between 2021-22 and 2022-23 – from 349,190 to 337,140.

But the most recent figures masking August 2023 till January 2024 suggests the variety of apprenticeship begins is recovering – up by 2.5 per cent on the identical interval the earlier yr.

Labour has pointed to a drop in additional training and abilities participation, the place Department for Education figures present a gentle decline between 2017-18 and 2020-21 – from 2.18 million contributors to 1.64 million. Participation has risen to 1.82 million by 2022-23.

The reformed levy would allow companies to spend as much as 50 per cent of their levy contributions on “approved non-apprenticeship training”, with no less than 50 per cent reserved for apprenticeships.

The authorised {qualifications} may embrace modular programs in Labour’s industrial technique “priority areas” – together with digital and inexperienced abilities – or pre-apprenticeship coaching, in accordance with the Labour Party.

Onward, a conservative suppose tank, revealed a report into the coverage earlier this month which steered the brand new flexibility “risks causing a further sharp decline in the number of apprenticeship starts”.

The suppose tank additionally concluded: “It is clear that the current system and the apprenticeship levy is not working as it should be and is not incentivising opportunity in the places that need it most”.

Education secretary Gillian Keegan stated: “Labour’s ill thought through policy will halve the number of apprenticeships, slash the budget by £1.5bn, and disadvantage small and medium sized businesses.

“Since 2010, we have built a world-class apprenticeship system from the ground up, delivering over 5.8 million apprenticeships since 2010 and creating pathways to 70 per cent of occupations through apprenticeships.

“Our plan is working. We must stick to it to deliver 100,000 more high-skilled apprenticeships a year fully funded so young people have the opportunities they deserve to secure high-skilled jobs and a brighter future. Labour would take us back to square one.”