Apprenticeship levy plan is a ‘step forward’: EEF

By Matt Atherton

- Last updated on GMT

EEF said the government's apprenticeship levy funding proposal was 'a step forward'
EEF said the government's apprenticeship levy funding proposal was 'a step forward'

Related tags Apprenticeship Vocational education

The government’s final funding proposals for the apprenticeship levy have been welcomed by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, which said it was “a significant step forward”.

The final funding report was published on October 25, pledging extra financial support for businesses training 16-to-18 year-old apprentices that live in poorer communities.  Companies would also have longer to spend their digital vouchers for training, and could transfer vouchers to different employers, the funding report announced.

“Today’s announcement clearly reflects our sector’s concerns, and is a significant step forward,”​ said EEF ceo Terry Scuoler.

‘Significant step forward’

“Allowing employers a longer period of time to spend their digital funds and recognising the cost of investing in higher quality STEM​ [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] apprenticeships are two important features in creating a levy that will reward employers investing in high quality training for the long-term.”

The government had planned to cut funding for 16-to-18 year-old apprentices by 30%, it was revealed in August. The planned cuts sparked concern among manufacturers, the EEF said. But today’s report has backtracked on the proposed cuts, and instead pledged an additional 20% of funds for training 16-to-18 year-olds.

Scuoler said: “Apprenticeships are critical for our industry, but manufacturers have long been wary of the levy and wanted it to be delayed until they could be satisfied it was fit-for-purpose.

“There are many positives to take away from today’s announcement, and the government has shown its willingness to work closely with industry on some of the remaining outstanding issues.”

‘Many positives to take away’

Manufacturers would now have longer to spend their digital vouchers on training apprentices, government announced. Voucher expiry dates were extended by six months, to two years. This gives businesses more time to adapt, and better align their spending to annual business plans, the EEF said.

Companies could now also transfer up to 10% of their annual digital vouchers to another employer. Manufacturers that prefer supporting training in their supply chains would particularly benefit from this, claimed the EEF.

The apprenticeship levy is due to begin in May 2017, government confirmed in its funding update. Scuoler said manufacturers need time to make adjustments before the levy comes into force.

“Timing is now all important,”​ he said. “With a shrinking window of opportunity to prepare for the levy, government must carefully prepare a final implementation plan while remaining mindful that employers as well as government need time to prepare for the sea change in apprenticeship funding next year.”

Apprenticeship levy final funding update – at a glance

  • 20% extra funds for training 16-to-18 year-old apprentices
  • Digital training vouchers expiry date extended by six months
  • Up to 10% of digital training vouchers could be transferred between companies

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