Due to a recent levy on apprenticeship and nationwide reforms, over the past 12 months businesses across the country have begun re-labelling low paying job roles and training courses as ‘new apprenticeships schemes.
According to the think tank Reform, and a recent article by Recruiting Times, the levy that was launched nearly a year ago requires employers to pay 0.5% of their annual pay bill (if their payroll is £3m or more). The aim of this was to increase work based learning placements and advance the declining skill set.
However, whilst the reforms have achieved this aim, Reform have also stated that nearly 40% of apprenticeship standards have failed to meet the international and historical structure of the scheme that was introduced nearly 6 years ago.
During the recent study, the think tank stated that typically low wage jobs such as restaurant waiters and retail assistant roles were now being considered as apprenticeship positions, even though they are not skilled occupations.
Within the think tanks report, entitled “The great training robbery”, they state that employers within the UK are “using the levy to rebadge existing training courses as apprenticeships to shift the costs of training onto the government instead”.
Should this trend continue to relabel lower paid roles in this way, the government is in line to spend nearly £600m on training programs in 2019-2020 that are incorrectly listed as apprenticeships.
Whilst a number of changes have been recommended by Reform to shift the focus of these courses on to quality rather than quantity, it could be some time before apprenticeships fall into line with the required standards.
In addition to this, Reform urged the government to have an “internationally benchmarked definition” of an apprenticeship, stating that the current payment system should be replaced with vouchers to reduce the financial burdens on employers and ensure that role are labelled under the correct criteria.
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 in order to provide more opportunities for young people to train as genuine apprentices, while saving hundreds of millions of pounds in the process.