Iain Macdonald, chief executive of training charity NET, has welcomed the reforms to apprenticeship funding, announced in the chancellor’s Autumn Statement on December 5.
He said: “The plan to give employers funding for apprenticeships and the power to choose which training provider they work with is a positive move. It will firmly establish employers as the ‘customer’ when it comes to apprenticeship training, a move which has been a long time coming. However, the details still need to be ironed out, specifically the size of the employer’s financial contribution, and this will be critical. If employers are going to be required to make an increased investment, the government needs to be mindful of the fact that the real costs of training apprentices in different sectors vary considerably and set its funding expectations accordingly.”
He continued: “Research carried out by the Warwick Institute for Employment Research in 2012 shows that, over the course of the apprenticeship, it costs more than twice as much to train a Level 3 construction apprentice (£26,000) as it does a Level 3 financial services apprentice (£11,000). Any reforms made to apprenticeship funding must therefore ensure that employers in sectors that have carried a significant burden of the costs of training apprentices aren’t forced to contribute more than they can afford.”
Macdonald also applauded the creation of 20,000 Higher Apprenticeship places, saying: “Making professions like Law and Accountancy accessible via the apprenticeship route will go a long way towards strengthening the apprenticeship brand as a whole.”
He concluded: “It’s heartening to see the government shares industry’s view of apprenticeships and agrees that they need to provide young people with the skills they require to build a successful career. Apprenticeships have been the poor relation of university for too long now, and I’m buoyed by this administration’s desire to help close the perceived gap in parity between the two.”