Chancellor Philip Hammond’s plans to reform the apprenticeship levy are welcome but do not go far enough, according to a senior figure in the construction industry.
Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders, the largest trade association for the UK construction industry, said: “The Chancellor has, in part, listened to the concerns of business by making the apprenticeship levy more flexible. However, he needs to go much further.”
His comments came after Philip Hammond announced a reform to the levy that increases the proportion of funds big businesses can pass down to smaller firms from 10 per cent to 25 per cent.
The levy was introduced in April last year and is payable by any company with a pay bill over £3m. The company can then claim vouchers to pay for training for apprentices. The scheme has been heavily criticised for being too inflexible and the number of new apprenticeships has been in decline.
“Since the apprenticeship levy was introduced last year, apprenticeship starts have fallen in the construction trades by more than ten per cent. Given that the construction industry is already suffering from an acute skills shortage, this is very worrying indeed,” said Mr Berry.
“If the Chancellor is serious about ensuring the levy has the desired effect, and increases meaningful training across all sectors, it should go further and make 100 per cent of the vouchers transferable from large to small companies.”