Scottish employers will get the chance to get their views heard on the implementation of the Apprentice Levy, the Scottish government has confirmed. According to Jamie Hepburn, Scotland’s minister for employability and training, the focus will be on developing a ‘distinctly Scottish approach’ to the levy.
Under the current rules, Scotland will receive a proportion of funds to develop apprenticeships and skills for younger people. However there are concerns that Westminster may impose an implementation, something Hepburn is keen to avoid: “The introduction of this levy is of fundamental concern for us. The UK Government has introduced this levy without any consultation with Scotland, despite the fact that apprenticeship policy is devolved to the Scottish Parliament.”
As a result, Hepburn has said he will host a summit of skills ministers to gather feedback on how employers want the levy to work. In a letter he said: “We are aware of the importance of involving employers in Scotland in shaping our response on how we should use our share of the funding. Devolved Administrations have yet to receive final details of the financial settlement that they will receive from the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy.
‘Keen to work with employers’
“Over recent months the Scottish Government has been engaging with a range of employers and representative bodies across a variety of sectors to better understand the impact that the levy will have. It is clear from engagement to date that employers in Scotland are looking for a much broader offer than that being developed in England. I am keen that we work with employers to achieve this.
“That is why we have launched consultation with employers to develop a distinctly Scottish approach, which supports apprenticeships and wider skills development and drives closer engagement with industry in our efforts to enhance productivity and economic growth. We will use our findings from the consultation with employers and other interested parties to inform our Spending Review decisions in the autumn.
“The introduction of the levy will have a significant impact on the skills delivery in the devolved administrations. Given the level of interest and concern from businesses around the levy across the UK, I have proposed to host a meeting in Scotland with the Skills Ministers from across the UK . This is a high priority for all four nations so I would hope we could meet at the earliest opportunity”
‘Apprenticeships are vital’
Peter Farrer, chief operating officer, Scottish Water, said: “It’s vital that we attract and develop the next generation of people to work in Scotland’s water industry. That’s why we’ve worked to create career opportunities such as internships and award-winning apprentice and graduate development schemes. We currently have nearly 100 apprentices in training – working in a number of parts of the business, from operations and engineering to science and IT.
“Our apprenticeships are a great way of receiving training and employment, while earning nationally-recognised qualifications with Scotland’s Best Large Employer. Apprenticeships are also a great way of helping a business put in place the talent and leadership required to meet its customers’ needs for the future.”
John F. McClelland, chair of Skills Development Scotland and chair of the newly formed Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board, said: “Apprenticeships are vital to developing the skills needed now and in the future to support the Scottish economy.
“The Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board is led by employers and representatives from industry bodies and sectors to align the development of apprenticeships with business needs, the economy, fair work and job opportunities.
“The Board will contribute to the consultation process and also actively encourage others with a shared interest in apprenticeships to participate.”