The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and Dundee)
Government challenged on Apprenticeship Levy
Industry: Policy issues could scupper growth of Modern Apprenticeships
The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) Scotland has warned that the growth in apprenticeships in Scotland could be scuppered unless the Scottish Government ring-fences the new Apprenticeship Levy for training.
It issued the warning after the Scottish Government announced a further rise in the number of Modern Apprenticeships (MAs) in training north of the border.
This year’s target of 25,000 MAs has been met, and next year’s has been set at 26,000, with the aim of achieving 30,000 MAs in 2020.
Scottish Government figures have praised employers for supporting the scheme which benefits young people, businesses and the economy.
From April 2017, all employers in the UK with an annual pay bill over £3 million will have to pay the Apprenticeship Levy. They will pay 0.5% of their annual pay bill as a commitment to traineeships.
The FMB warn that progress in increasing MAs could unravel unless the Scottish Government commits to re-investing Apprenticeship Levy funds.
Gordon Nelson, director of FMB Scotland, said: “This good work could soon be undone.
“There is a leadership vacuum in terms of demonstrating how the Apprenticeship Levy will be implemented in Scotland.”
He accepted the Apprenticeship Levy has been foisted on the Scottish Government with no or very little consultation.
The Scottish business community had also been frustrated by not being able to engage with policy-makers on such an important matter.
“Now that relevant ministers are in place, we want a clear message from the Scottish Government that they will engage with the construction industry and others to develop a workable policy for investing the Apprenticeship Levy.”
The sector is facing a skills shortage and needed to develop more “home grown talent,” he added.
Scottish employability minister Jamie Hepburn said last night: “The FMB is right to say that UK Apprenticeship Levy was introduced without consultation with Scottish ministers and we have been frustrated at the way this levy has been imposed by the UK Government.
“We need to work with the business community to oversee how this policy works in Scotland and ensure we can continue to build on the considerable success of our Modern Apprenticeship programme.
“That process is under way and I would be happy to discuss with the FMB as we move forward.”