The central pillar of the government’s apprenticeship strategy – the push to deliver 3m apprentices by 2020 – has come under heavy fire this week. New research from accountancy bodies AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) showed that almost half of all MPs (46%) think the Government’s 3m target ignores the importance of both quality and completion rates and should be modified,
The AAT/ACCA report follows the publication earlier this week of the Institute of Fiscal Studies’ (IFS) report claiming apprentice targets represent ‘poor value for money’.
‘Apprenticeship Levy should be re-named’
While both the AAT and ACCA have backed the Government’s commitment to three million apprenticeship starts by 2020, they have both said that the plan will only deliver if supported by a focus on timely completions and overall quality.
The accountancy bodies also announced that the Apprenticeship Levy, which comes into force this April, should be renamed as the Skills Levy, and for levy monies to be able to be spent on high quality traineeships and other forms of training other than apprenticeships. This will benefit individuals, employers and the economy as a whole.
A recent YouGov study commissioned by AAT and ACCA found that the study, conducted by YouGov with MPs from across the political divide, also showed that almost two thirds of MPs (65%) think that the Apprenticeship Levy should be developed to allow funding for skills other than apprenticeships.
John Williams, Head of ACCA UK, said “It is reassuring to see that there is strong political support for a focus on quality and skills. For accountancy, apprenticeships not only offer an important non-graduate route into the professions but also an opportunity for ambitious young people from all backgrounds to develop work-ready technical skills which will enable them to thrive in the evolving 21st century workplace.
“With Government unveiling a new Industrial Strategy, and business preparing itself for the impacts of advanced robotics, the availability of high-quality apprenticeships and traineeships will play an integral role in enabling the UK’s financial and professional services sector to continue to lead the world in the short and long term. It is therefore a top priority to ensure we continue to build support and awareness of the value of apprenticeships both in Parliament and across the education sector.”
‘Levy should be widened in scope’
Mark Farrar, Chief Executive, AAT said;“It’s good to see so many MPs sharing our views, because although we have long supported the three million apprenticeship starts target, we have been concerned about completion rates and quality for just as long.
“Likewise, we strongly believe that the Apprenticeship Levy should be widened in scope to allow for investment in high quality traineeships and other forms of training. Again, many MPs agree with us and even the Secretary of State for Education recently expressed a willingness to consider such a development. However, until this happens we shall continue beating the drum, not just for the accountancy profession but for the sake of the wider economy.”