Home   Kent Business   County news   Article

Fewer apprenticeship vacancies created as employers opt to use levy to train present staff, says analysis of official figures by East Kent College

By Chris Price

Fewer young people are taking apprenticeships because big employers are opting to train their present staff instead, following the introduction of a government tax, official figures indicate.

The number of apprentice vacancies in the UK looks set to drop by about 12% in 2016-17 according to an analysis of 11 months of government data by East Kent College.

The biggest decline is among level 2 courses, the earliest level available.

Companies are opting to train present staff rather than employ new young apprentices, warns East Kent College principal Graham Razey

Companies are opting to train present staff rather than employ new young apprentices, warns East Kent College principal Graham Razey

Graham Razey, the principal of East Kent College and Canterbury College, said the introduction of the apprenticeship levy is to blame for the forecast decline.

The levy was brought into force in April and charges a 0.5% tax on companies with a paybill of more than £3 million.

Bosses can claim back money paid into the levy if they use it for training but, rather than hiring young people, firms have opted to upskill their present staff, according to Mr Razey.

“It appears to me employers are less likely to advertise apprenticeships for 16 to 17-year-olds,” he said.

“It appears to me employers are less likely to advertise apprenticeships for 16 to 17-year-olds...” - Graham Razey, East Kent College

“These are students who have just got their GCSEs or not even got them yet, who are going onto the first rung of a trade.

“The biggest growing apprenticeship standard at the moment is team leading and management.

"Employers are effectively using the current framework to upskill their workforce.

“You’ve also got organisations who are waiting.

“This is a new policy and they don’t want to be early adopters so they’re playing the waiting game. That impacts on the market.”

The Kick Start Kent campaign aims to create a better environment for employers to hire apprentices and for people to start a career using the route

The Kick Start Kent campaign aims to create a better environment for employers to hire apprentices and for people to start a career using the route

The comments reignite the debate on apprenticeships driven by the Kick Start Kent campaign, launched by Kent Business in the spring.

The initiative aims to ensure the apprenticeship levy is administered properly and to improve standards to make sure more people finish their apprenticeship courses.

Mr Razey believes employers will begin hiring more young people in the long term to claim back the apprenticeship levy, once they finish training their present staff.

However, he believes “there is a danger” the government will miss its target to create three million new apprenticeships by 2020.

East Kent College and Canterbury College principal Graham Razey

East Kent College and Canterbury College principal Graham Razey

To try to meet the goal, he believes some existing training courses may be rebranded as apprenticeships. He pointed to accountancy as a good example where this is happening.

He said: “The reality is where you set a numerical target, behaviours will happen to try to achieve that target.

“I like the idea of professions going towards apprenticeships. It adds more prestige to the apprenticeship brand.

“However it does confuse the target because these jobs were in existence but they weren’t called apprenticeships.

“We need to be clear about how many new opportunities are being created because that will be the mark of the success of the levy and other apprenticeship changes.”

Join the debate...
Comments |

Don't have an account? Please Register first!

The KM Group does not moderate comments. Please click here for our house rules.

People who post abusive comments about other users or those featured in articles will be banned.

Thank you. Your comment has been received and will appear on the site shortly.

 

Terms of Comments
We do not actively moderate, monitor or edit contributions to the reader comments but we may intervene and take such action as we think necessary, please click here for our house rules. If you have any concerns over the contents on our site, please either register those concerns using the report abuse button, contact us here, email multimediadesk@thekmgroup.co.uk or call 01634 227989.

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More