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Date: 19/04/2018

A recent report by the Department of Education shows that since the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in April 2017, the number of businesses recruiting apprentices has fallen.

The Levy intended to tackle the skill shortages firms in all industries are facing, by requiring businesses to invest in their workers by providing quality training. When the Levy was first introduced in April 2017, it was met with mixed reviews from businesses. Some businesses saw it as an opportunity to invest in training and boost their business, while others saw the Levy as another business tax that raises the cost of doing business – a key priority in Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce Business Manifesto 2018.

Here at the Chamber,  we have received feedback from local businesses that the Levy does not encourage participation and that the current system feels restrictive, inflexible, and was launched without the mechanisms needed to function being ready. Sadly this has meant a lot of firms have been discouraged from taking on apprentices. This is why we have included the Apprenticeship Levy in our Business Manifesto for 2018, as we believe that the apprenticeship system should encourage participation in quality training by businesses of all sectors and sizes, particularly SMEs.

Jane Gratton, Head of Business Environment and Skills Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, commented on the figures published by the Government on the Apprenticeship Levy:

“The Government urgently needs to work with businesses to find ways to make the Apprenticeship Levy work better for everyone, and ensure that the UK economy has the skilled staff it needs. Some quick fixes include giving firms more time to source apprenticeship training, introducing more flexible payment schedules and doing more to help SMEs access apprenticeship funding.”

Skills are consistently raised as the biggest concern within Herefordshire and Worcestershire, and having a suitable apprenticeship system will help reduce this issue.