Scottish energy firms slam Levy plans

Another day, another complaint from an industry body over plans to introduce the Apprentice Levy in April 2017. The latest objections come from Subsea, the oil and gas trade body, who has called the plans ‘a “double-whammy” on the industry, given that many of its members already pay the ECITB (Engineering Construction Industry Training Board) levy. Almost 40% of the ECITB levies collected come from oil and gas companies.

One of those companies, Opito UK, now says it may consider move its training operations to England to avoid the worst of the effects of the Scottish government’s decision not to ringfence funds allocated via the UK-wide Levy.

 

“Very real risk to Scotland’s skills base”

John McDonald, Opito managing director, said: “By refusing to ring-fence the funding, the Scottish Government has given itself an additional pot of cash it can use to plug holes elsewhere in the Scottish budget rather than for its intended purpose of adding legitimate value to skills development in the national workforce.

“The very real risk to Scotland’s skills base as a result of this decision is that employers may choose to take their apprenticeships out of Scotland entirely and relocate them south of the border where the funding is protected and they will get a better return on their investment.”

Neil Gordon, chief executive of Subsea UK, said the Scottish Government’s decision was bad news in that meant that Scotland’s larger employers will be paying two levies.

“The ECITB one is for training and learning and the way in which it is invested and how business can claim it back works well,” Gordon said. “However, it is now likely that the new money available from the Scottish Government under the apprenticeship levy will simply go into existing schemes, not deliver what it is intended to and be seen as an additional cost to business.

“The industry is not against the principle of either levy says and wants to create quality new apprenticeships. But we must not be unfairly affected in relation to other industries, particularly when we are facing such a severe downturn.”

The issue is not fully resolved, however. Further details on funding for apprenticeships will be set out in the Scottish budget on 15th December.