Labour pledges to maintain Levy whole focusing on skills quality

Amid the fallout from today’s leaked Labour manifesto, the Party’s commitment to the Apprenticeship Levy has been overlooked. But Labour skills spokesman Gordon Marsden has confirmed that the Levy would continue in its current form, but would see over £400m ringfenced for SMEs. But Labour says it would also shift the emphasis from quantity to quality.

“A Labour spokesperson said that if the party came to power, ministers would require the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education to report “on an annual basis to the Secretary of State on quality outcomes of completed apprenticeships to ensure they deliver skilled workers for employers and real jobs for apprentices at the end of their training”.

Shadow skills minister Gordon Marsden (pictured) also told FE Week: “We will also protect the £440 million funding for non-levy payers on small and medium sized businesses, and see what more can be done in that area.

“We will also concentrate on recognising the needs of independent training providers, as well as general FE colleges.”


‘Focus on quality is welcome’

The shift from raw numerical targets – as pursued by the Conservative government in recent years – was cautiously welcomed by the AELP’s Mark Dawe, who said the pursuit of targets may serve to dilute the quality of the training delivered. “Numbers and quality can grow together,” he said, “Therefore Labour’s focus on quality is welcome.

“We have to be a little careful however about using completions as a target measure, because this might lead to employers and providers only taking the applicants most likely to succeed and we must never lose sight that one of the best attributes of apprenticeships is them acting as a driver of social inclusion for young people.”