Prime Minister David Cameron is set to announce more details regarding the government’s strategy to increase the number and quality of apprenticeships offered by businesses in England.
Key elements of the plan include:
- Changes to government procurement
Companies bidding for central government contracts worth more than £10 million will need to commit to offering apprenticeships from 1 September 2015. Winning bidders will have an agreed number of apprenticeships written into a monitored contract schedule. The Crown Commercial Service will announce further details later in the month.
- New apprenticeship standards
The government has approved 59 new standards designed to increase the quality of apprenticeships. The standards encompass a range of industries and detail the skills apprentices need to attain in their respective sectors.
- A levy on apprenticeships
Announced during Summer Budget 2015, an apprenticeship levy will be applied to large companies. It is designed to increase investment in apprenticeships and is scheduled to come into force in April 2017. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is currently consulting with employers about the introduction of the apprenticeship levy.
The government pledged to boost the number of apprenticeships by 3 million by 2020 in its election manifesto. This will build on the 2.3 million apprenticeships created by the coalition government during the last Parliament.
Professor Alison Wolf, director of public services policy and management at Kings College, said:
“This is a necessary step towards recreating high quality apprenticeships across the country, based on the needs of our economy, engaging and responding to employers, and able to contribute to current and future productivity in an effective way.”
John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said the government must ensure that the apprenticeships deliver on quality:
“Apprenticeship schemes can play a part in meeting important ambitions to boost skills and drive-up productivity. But for apprenticeships to take hold and become established, the focus should be on quality – not hitting an arbitrary figure. The conveyor belt model is not what business wants to see.
“If the quality is there, the demand, from employers and potential apprentices, will follow.”