Education

17.04.18

Govt risks wasting £600m of apprenticeship cash on ‘rebadged’ training courses

The introduction of the levy around this time last year has actually diminished the quality of apprenticeships, with the government now running the risk of dishing out £600m on courses that are incorrectly labelled as apprenticeships, Reform has argued.

Almost 40% of the apprenticeship standards approved by the government since 2012 fail to reach the international or historical definition of an apprenticeship, the think tank has claimed, with many roles officially counted as apprenticeships including “low-skill and often very short training courses.”

The report, ‘The great training robbery:  Assessing the first year of the apprenticeship levy,’ found that these roles include serving customers in a delicatessen or coffee shop, performing basic office administration and serving food and drink in a restaurant.

Reform has also warned that employers are using the levy to “rebadge” existing training courses as apprenticeships in order to shift the cost of training onto the government, with the most obvious examples of this relabelling found in leadership and management skills.

These so-called mislabelled courses are consuming over 20% of the funding available for newly-designed apprenticeships, and the think tank has calculated that in 2019-20, if there is no reform, the government will spend £600m on courses that are incorrectly labelled as apprenticeships.

Additionally, the research found that in the six months after the new apprenticeship levy was introduced (April to October 2017), the number of people starting an apprenticeship fell by 40% compared to the previous year, with a similar downward trend noted across November and December.

However, speaking to PSE earlier this year, apprenticeship minister Anne Milton said this was because companies were still getting familiarised with the new regulations and consider where to invest their money.

But the think tank stressed that employers have become increasingly critical towards the levy, primarily due to the burdens associated with accessing the funds, as well as identifying and selecting training and assessment providers. A “substantial increase” in bureaucracy has also led to business groups branding the levy “disastrous,” “confusing” and “broken.”

As a result, Reform has made a series of recommendations, including scrapping the target for three million apprenticeship starts by 2020 to ensure that focus is placed on quality of apprenticeships over anything else, as well as removing the 10% employer co-investment towards the cost of training to avoid businesses disengaging.

It also argued that the exam regulator Ofqual should be made the only option for quality-assuring the end-point assessments for apprenticeships, to ensure that standards are maintained.

Tom Richmond, senior research fellow at Reform, said: “At present, the apprenticeship levy is too complicated for employers, focused on too many inappropriate forms of training and as a result is unlikely to deliver value for money.

“The government urgently needs to get rid of these poor-quality apprenticeships to provide more opportunities for young people to train as genuine apprentices while saving hundreds of millions of pounds in the process.”

A Department for Education spokesperson responded to the report: “We want to see people of all ages and backgrounds getting the excellent training they need to succeed in a wide range of jobs, and we are changing the apprenticeship system to do just that.

“Our reforms have fundamentally changed what apprenticeships are, as we made it a requirement that all apprenticeships must be real paid jobs lasting for a minimum of 12 months, with at least 20% off the job-training.

“Quality is at the heart of our reforms, and the apprenticeship levy is an important part of that – creating sustainable investment in skills training.”

Top image: Highwaystarz-Photography

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become a PSE columnist? If so, click here

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

related

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

Benefits of blockchain

23/07/2018Benefits of blockchain

Jonny Voon, innovation lead for Internet of Things & distributed ledger at Innovate UK, talks us through the many benefits of blockchain tech... more >
Industrial strategies: taking back control

23/07/2018Industrial strategies: taking back control

The ‘place-based’ focus of the Industrial Strategy will be a significant step towards growing local economies alongside LEPs, writes ... more >
Keeping it simple

23/07/2018Keeping it simple

Jason Waterman, deputy director of disputes & policy implementation at the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), describes the benefits of the stre... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this... read more >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the o... more > more last word articles >
  • 23/07/2018Benefits of blockchain

    Jonny Voon, innovation lead for Internet of Things & distributed ledger at Innovate UK, talks us through the many benefits of blockchain technology and its potential to disrupt almost every i...
  • 23/07/2018Industrial strategies: taking back control

    The ‘place-based’ focus of the Industrial Strategy will be a significant step towards growing local economies alongside LEPs, writes Cllr Philip Atkins, County Councils Network (CCN) ...
View all News

the raven's daily blog

One step closer to voter IDs at elections

19/07/2018One step closer to voter IDs at elections

Chloe Smith MP, Minister for the Constitution, evaluates the outcomes of the voter ID pilots conducted at the last local elections. We are one step closer to strengthening the integrity of our electoral system through requiring electors to confirm their identity before they vote, building on the government’s commitment to safeguard ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

Benefits of blockchain

23/07/2018Benefits of blockchain

Jonny Voon, innovation lead for Internet of Things & distributed ledger at Innovate UK, talks us through the many benefits of blockchain tech... more >
Industrial strategies: taking back control

23/07/2018Industrial strategies: taking back control

The ‘place-based’ focus of the Industrial Strategy will be a significant step towards growing local economies alongside LEPs, writes ... more >
Keeping it simple

23/07/2018Keeping it simple

Jason Waterman, deputy director of disputes & policy implementation at the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), describes the benefits of the stre... more >
Mind the skills gap

23/07/2018Mind the skills gap

Kathleen Henehan, research and policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, examines the intergenerational and international skills gap faced by ... more >

interviews

Data at the heart of digital transformation

03/04/2018Data at the heart of digital transformation

SPONSORED INTERVIEW Grant Caley, UK & Ireland chief technologist at NetApp, speaks to PSE’s Luana Salles about the benefits of movin... more >
GDPR: The public sector scarecrow

03/04/2018GDPR: The public sector scarecrow

SPONSORED INTERVIEW PSE’s Josh Mines chats to Martin de Martini, CIO of Y Soft, about what the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)... more >
Keeping London safe

05/03/2018Keeping London safe

Theo Blackwell, London’s first-ever chief digital officer (CDO), speaks to PSE’s Luana Salles about the role he plays in ensuring the... more >
BIM: Digitising the public sector

19/02/2018BIM: Digitising the public sector

PSE’s Josh Mines talks to Stephen Crompton, CTO at GroupBC, and Stuart Bell, the company’s sales and marketing director, about how Bu... more >

public sector focus

View all News