The Chancellor is right to make the Apprenticeship Levy more flexible, so that it works for strategic industries such as the construction sector, but his reforms have not gone far enough, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
Responding to the Chancellor’s speech at the Conservative Party Conference, Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, 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. Currently 10% of Levy vouchers can be passed down through the supply chain from large firms to smaller firms and today, he increased this to 25%. This is important as in construction, it’s the small firms that do the bulk of the training while the large firms don’t tend to directly employ or train tradespeople. Since the Apprenticeship Levy was introduced last year, apprenticeship starts have fallen in the construction trades by more than 10%. Given that the construction industry is already suffering from an acute skills shortage, this is very worrying indeed. 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% of the vouchers transferable from large to small companies.”