Apprenticeship number falls – BPP’s views

Over the past few weeks there has been some increased concern around the Apprenticeship Levy and the various challenges employers are facing. One area in particular is the decrease in apprenticeship starts. The Times article recently released the following article ‘Apprenticeship Levy drives down apprenticeships by almost two thirds . There were 61% fewer apprenticeships between May and July compared with the same period as last year.

James Hammill, Executive Director of BPP Professional Apprenticeships responds back to this and states

“The levy has been a huge transformational change in the market, therefore to expect no disruption to the number of starts underplays the significance of this. That said It is right to raise concerns about the volumes of people starting apprenticeships and the potential drop in 16-18 year olds starting a programme, but let’s not over react. From our understanding of the market those levy paying employers who have registered with the ESFA are taking their apprenticeship plans very seriously. They are developing their strategies and educating their businesses about how apprenticeship programmes can be aligned to their business objectives and long term workforce planning. This without doubt all takes time and we can’t expect employers to immediately mobilise hundreds of new starts so soon into this levy introduction.

By giving employers time to evaluate their approach this should lead to far better quality of programmes and opportunities for people. Employers will only introduce something if it is right for the business and this should be seen as a positive. Historically, a lot of apprenticeship starts are the result of providers telling employers they can access funding and provide apprenticeship courses for ‘free’, with the employer not taking an active role in the development and implementation/roll out of the programme. This relationship is now completely reversed. The training provider no longer has the ‘free funding’ card and the employer will only seek out a provider if the programme is right for them first and foremost.”

BPP’s view is that employers are thinking strategically and will bring in a blend of programmes for young school leavers as well as development opportunities for existing employees. Yes, a lot of employers are behind the curve but this is the case with any transformational change. It is the role of us all including government, providers and experienced apprenticeship employers to educate the market in how to design and deliver programmes that add value to business and the apprentice.

James Hammill, Executive Director of BPP Professional Apprenticeships.