BIS committee report criticises “blunt and arbitrary” apprentice target and ambiguous apprenticeship levy

MPs have slammed the government’s “blunt and arbitrary” target to create three million apprenticeships by the end of the parliament.

A report by MPs on the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) committee argued it was “counterintuitive” for the government to set a quantitative target to provide three million apprenticeships, while suggesting the provision of skills must be employer-led.

The report said the design of the government’s new apprenticeship levy “must recognise that some businesses invest heavily in training and development but have a smaller proportion of apprentices because of a smaller need in that business.”

The BIS committee has slammed the government’s “apparent lack of consultation” with industries on its apprenticeships target, and called on it to set out the rationale and evidence base for its three million target.

It also recommends the government consults with firms on the apprenticeship levy to ensure it is “implemented in such a way as to allow sectors to invest in skills through different qualifications and training methods applicable to their specific needs.”

Reacting to the committee’s report, head of external affairs at the Federation of Master Builders, Sarah McGonagle, said it reflects the “widespread anxiety” within construction that the apprenticeship levy “is being implemented without sufficient consultation.”

She added that “construction SMEs are still in the dark over how the new levy will work alongside the existing CITB levy.

“Given that the levy is about enabling more apprenticeship training, and in construction it is SMEs that do the vast majority of training, this lack of clarity is distinctly unhelpful.”