APS urges government to get apprenticeships on track

January 30, 2018: The Association of Professional Sales (APS) is urging the government to act quickly to approve more apprenticeships.

The call from the APS follows the news that a new system to boost the number of apprentices is falling short.

The government has set itself a target of three million new apprentices by 2020, but employers say government measures put in place to improve the skills of Britain’s workforce have resulted in fewer, not more, apprenticeships.

The figures speak for themselves. The number of apprentices starting their training in the autumn was down by almost 42,000 on the previous year.*

The APS backs the principles of the government’s new apprenticeship levy because it encourages companies to build accredited skilled workforces for the long term and is a great opportunity to have more externally recognised training to foster a strong, ethical sales industry, but there is too much confusion and many companies are not clear how the levy works.

Ben Turner, APS general manager, comments: “There is no reason why the government cannot hit its target of three million apprentices by 2020, but not as things stand.

“The whole process needs to be sped up. The sales profession alone could add significant numbers to the apprenticeship training programme.

“We know of employers who have hundreds of apprentices lined up, ready to start work, but the apprenticeships are waiting for final government sign-off.

“For instance, degree-level sales apprenticeship have been approved by the government, but the budget has not been signed off , delaying employers and the start of apprenticeship learning and development.”

This doesn’t just affect sales, other professions are caught up in the same bottleneck.

Ben Turner says: “We don’t think the government should reform the system; they should just speed it up. Reforming the system will bring it to a standstill.

“The government simply needs to get on with the job of approving more apprenticeships, approving more training providers and approving end-point assessors.”

The new apprenticeship levy was set up last April 2017. Now, big employers with a pay bill of more than £3m per year pay a levy or apprenticeship tax of 0.5% on their pay bill. (So for a £3m pay bill, the levy would be £150,000.)

* Official figures quoted by the BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42818613

(“There were 114,000 apprenticeship starts reported so far for the first quarter of the 2017-18 academic year. That compared with 155,600 for the same period in the previous academic year.”)

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