Leading think tank says all-industry apprenticeship levy could backfire

Apprentice Alamy

The government’s target of delivering three million apprenticeships by 2020 risks being “poor value for money”, a leading think tank has warned.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said the target - which will be funded by an all-industry levy coming into force in April - could devalue apprenticeships by turning them into “just another term for training”.

The report warns the government has “failed to make a convincing case for such a large and rapid expansion in apprenticeships”.

The study warns of a potential negative impact on the quality of other training types re-branded as apprenticeships, and predicts the added cost of the levy could push down wages for other employees.

It also cautions the unintended consequence of the policy could be to deter employers from paying to train their own employees, creating “considerable risks to the efficient use of public money”.

The education department said standards are “rigorously checked”.

The criticism comes as the construction industry’s own training body the CITB comes under intense scrutiny this year.

The CITB earlier this month unveiled plans to cut its levy by almost a third, as part of plans to win round large firms angered by the prospect of having to pay two training levies from April, with “double paying” set to impact some 900 large construction firms.

The CITB’s statutory levy is up for renewal this autumn, with thousands of construction firms set to vote on whether or not to continue it.