Brexit would scupper apprenticeship target

The Shadow Skills Minister has shared his fears for apprenticeships should Brexit occur. Gordon Marsden, who is firmly in the Remain camp, has written of his fear of the knock on effect of a Brexit on achieving the long stated target of three million apprentices by 2020.

“Having spoken to people, representing everything from large companies to SMEs and sector skills councils, the general impression I have had is one of extreme concern that leaving the EU could hold back the apprenticeship programme even more,” said Marsden.


‘Three million by 2020 under real threat’

“I think leaving would create huge problem for this government – any government in fact – trying to meet the long-stated three milion target by 2020,” he wrote.

“I am actually just as worried about the overall effect on apprenticeships of a Brexit as the specifics of how it would affect the apprenticeship levy — which was of course the concern raised recently by Skills Minister Nick Boles.”

Marsden then outlines his main concerns: Large employers, especially those who are either internationally-based or linked, in the profound uncertainties whatever the ultimate outcome would review very carefully their recruitment and expansion policies.

“I think it’s fairly certain that many of these companies would be very wary of expanding their apprenticeship programme amid all the confusion and economic problems that pulling our country out of Europe would cause.

The ability of employers to parcel the apprenticeships out with their supply chain, or to support their supply chain could be badly undermined.

“I would be particularly concerned that small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) would be substantially affected by the period of uncertainty, and they should be a key driver with increasing apprenticeship starts.

Marsden concluded by saying the Skills Minister wasn’t scaremongering when he raised concern about the prospects of the levy if the public votes to leave in the referendum. “He wasn’t going far enough.”