Despite its noble aims, the government’s determination to introduce the Apprenticeship Levy will in fact have the effect of worsening the inequality between the north and south of the UK. That is the stark finding of a new report from the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR).
The report states that analysis of official figures relating to how the Levy will be spent suggests a disproportionate amount of investment would be stimulated in London and the south-east, where there was a relatively high number of big employers. The figures show that those areas have 38% of the UK’s large businesses that would be targeted by the levy, but higher levels of employment and only 27% of the population, IPPR’s research found.
Clare McNeil, IPPR associate director for work and families, said: “The government has said that it wants to break down the barriers to social mobility faced by young people in this country. It is clear to see that young people outside of London and the south-east face a much harder time finding a first job or training opportunity – particularly those not going on to university.
‘Unemployment hotspots will get less funding’
McNeil said she believed it was extraordinary that the government has not analysed the regional impact of its new apprenticeships policy, “Which is likely to boost investment in training precisely in those areas where employment is higher, such as in London and the south-east, leaving unemployment hotspots in the north-east or Yorkshire with proportionately less funding.”
However, apprenticeships and skills minister Robert Halfon rejected the IPPR’s findings. Responding to the IPPR report, the, Robert Halfon, said: “I have been clear that everyone should benefit from our reforms to apprenticeships and there is no evidence of a north-south divide. We currently have the highest number of apprentices on record, with 900,000 this parliament and with numbers consistently high across the whole country.
“We truly are investing in the whole of England by doubling funding for apprenticeships to £2.5bn by 2019-20 – twice what was spent in 2010-11 – and giving employers more power than ever before to design training that meets their needs. ”
The IPPR made a number of recommendations, and McNeil said “Unless it changes the policy to ensure that investment is distributed more fairly between north and south, it will exacerbate existing regional disparities in opportunity for young people.”