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PM unveils radical plans to boost apprenticeships and transform training

Posted: 24th August 2015

  • Government outlines radical changes to boost apprenticeship numbers and drive up quality of courses
  • Apprenticeship levy to level the playing field so every big company plays their part in delivering new generation of skilled apprentices and industry- led training standards to meet their needs.
  • All part of One Nation Government’s pledge to create 3 million apprenticeships by 2020

Prime Minister David Cameron will today (21 August) outline a package of radical plans to increase the number of quality apprenticeships across England – from nuclear engineers to tailors and butchers- and give businesses a say on how they are run and what they offer.

Employers across the country will be asked for their views on the introduction of an apprenticeship levy – set to be introduced in 2017 and designed to increase investment in training and apprenticeships.

Other steps outlined today that form part of the Government’s pledge to support 3 million apprenticeships by 2020, include a requirement to take a company’s apprenticeship offer into account when awarding large government contracts and publishing new ‘industry standards’ so that apprentices have the skills that companies need.

Also today, the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced an ambition to boost apprenticeships across the road and rail industry – pledging 30,000 apprenticeship places in the sector during the lifetime of this Parliament, with help from a transport strategy led by Terry Morgan, Chairman of Crossrail.

This builds on the 2.3 million apprenticeships created under the last parliament to make sure that young people have the skills and expertise that employers demand.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“The greatest asset any employer has is their workforce. And by investing in them, they are investing in the success and future of their business.

“As a One Nation government, we are committed to supporting three million quality apprenticeships over the next five years – to help strengthen our economy, deliver the skills that employers need and give millions more hardworking people financial security and a brighter future.”

Skills Minister Nick Boles said:

“Skilled people are the lifeblood of a strong economy but for too long UK businesses have invested too little in developing their employees’ skills to meet the demands of a competitive, global market. The apprenticeship levy will ensure that businesses invest in skills and training, and will act as a much needed shot in the arm for the country’s productivity.”

The plans outlined today include:

Apprenticeship Levy - The amount that UK businesses have invested in training has fallen consistently over the last 20 years and UK productivity now lags behind other major Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.

Employers are now being urged to give their views on plans for an apprenticeship levy to boost investment in apprentices and skills training and make sure it meets their needs. Under the proposed approach employers will that put in funds will have direct spending power over it.

Levy systems already operate in over 50 countries, including Netherlands, Denmark and South Korea, and will ensure every larger company plays their part in investing in the future generation of apprenticeships. The levy will help cement the government’s aim to build a world class apprenticeship system, led by employers.

A full consultation on the implementation of the levy is being launched today.

Major changes to government procurement - From 1 September 2015, all bids for government contracts worth more than £10million must demonstrate a clear commitment to apprenticeships. In particular, employers will be expected to demonstrate that they have a reasonable proportion of their workforce in an apprenticeship or formal training programme. The move is aimed at widening the scope of businesses offering apprenticeships, and with more than £50bn a year spent on government procurement contracts, will provide a significant boost in apprenticeship numbers.

‘Industry standards’ for quality apprenticeships – In the latest of a series of steps to drive up the quality of apprenticeships, 59 new apprenticeship standards developed by Trailblazer groups of employers and businesses have been approved today.

The ‘industry standards’, which cover a range of professions including nuclear engineers, fashion assistants, live event technicians, personal trainers and welders will outline the skills apprentices in these roles are expected to have to meet the needs of employers.

This is all part of government’s commitment to see through the reforms to build a world class apprenticeship system.

The first 8 trailblazers began in October 2013 and there are now over 140 Trailblazer groups that so far have collectively delivered or are in the process of delivering, over 350 standards.

The 5% Club – A business-led network of employers who commit to getting at least five per cent of their workforce on apprenticeships and training schemes within 5 years. The 5% Club is growing in popularity and is announcing its 100th member – Sellafield. It joins other leading employers KPMG, Vision Express, CBI and Kier which together train around 36,000 young people