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Education in the media: 26 October 2016

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Today’s news review looks at coverage of the apprenticeship funding announcement.

Apprenticeship funding

On Tuesday, 25 October, Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills Robert Halfon announced the final funding policy which underpins the apprenticeship levy, that comes into effect in 2017. This follows proposals set out in August.

Following a consultation with the sector, we announced additional funding for young apprentices aged 16 to 18 and those from disadvantaged backgrounds. We have also given employers longer to spend levy funds.

This was covered by BBC Online, the Independent, Guardian, Times, Sun and TES.

When the proposals were published in August we said that we would listen to feedback from the sector and that is exactly what we have done. This is how good policy should be developed.

The news has been welcomed by stakeholders from the sector and a selection of responses are included below.

Skills Minister Robert Halfon said:

Apprenticeships work. The reforms we are rolling out will guarantee support from employers and government, so that millions of people can get the apprenticeships, skills and jobs for the future.


Our apprenticeship levy will boost our economic productivity, increase our skills base and give millions a leg up on the ladder of opportunity – over 90% of apprentices currently go into work or further training. Making Britain a world leader on apprenticeships is essential if we truly want a country that works for everyone.


Colleges, employers and other organisations have been lending their support to the apprenticeship levy.

TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, said:

High-quality apprenticeships are vital to our economic growth, and to young workers looking for a decent start to their career. The levy will give a welcome boost to funding for apprenticeships, and will make sure that all employers who benefit from a skilled workforce are paying their way. Trade unions look forward to working with employers to make a success of the levy and the apprenticeships that it funds.

Cambridge Regional College Principal, Mark Robertson, said:

The levy is a game-changing approach to the training and development of people across the country’s largest organisations. At Cambridge Regional College, we are experiencing genuine excitement from employers, in all kinds of businesses, that the levy will enable them to grow their own key employees of the future, to develop people and to address skills shortages to build capacity, productivity and prosperity, for today and for the years ahead.

West Suffolk College Principal, Dr Nikos Savvas, said:

At West Suffolk College we see the introduction of the levy as an extremely positive move. The levy will help companies to invest wisely in staff training and support their economic growth. This college has a long and proud tradition and an excellent track record of working with a wide variety of companies and apprenticeships. We are looking forward to working in collaboration with all employers to support them with their staffing needs.

Blackpool and The Fylde College:

We believe employee development is a fundamental component in increasing workforce productivity. It benefits both the employers in terms of increased productivity and individuals in terms of career prospects and social mobility. Apprenticeships, including higher and degree apprenticeships, form an integral part of the reforms. We look forward to seeing the full details of the apprenticeship reforms and the positive impact which they may have on the local community and our employer partners.

Balfour Beatty Group CEO Balfour Beatty and Founder of The 5% Club, Leo Quinn, said:

As employers we have a responsibility to train the next generation with the skills that our businesses will need to drive the British economy forward in the decades ahead. The government’s support for apprenticeships and the introduction of the levy will mean many more young people receive the training which will mean they can have long and satisfying careers.

Interserve Learning and Employment Managing Director, Chris Peel, said:

We see apprenticeship reform and the levy as a positive force for change. As a large business and a levy payer, we are confident that we will make the best possible use of the opportunities opened up by the changes to meet our own current and longer-term skills needs. From the perspective of Interserve Learning and Employment (ILE) it will allow us to build on the guidance and support we are already providing to a number of employers about what the levy means and what they need to do to get ready for and benefit from it.

Chartered Management Institute Director of Strategy, Petra Wilton, said:

A recent CMI survey of over 1,000 managers showed strong support for the apprenticeship levy, and 80% of managers agree there needs to be far greater investment in higher level skills to meet the massive economic and employment challenges that we’ll face post-Brexit. Bad management currently costs British businesses £84 billion a year in lost productivity, leaving us lagging behind our G7 competitors. We clearly need to use the opportunities of the levy to ensure that we have the future skills such as management and digital that employers are crying out for.


On an individual level, the likes of Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship will give both school leavers and existing workers alike the chance to get a degree, professional accreditation and work experience to kick-start their careers in management.

Airbus UK General Manager and HR Director, Mark Stewart, said:

It’s excellent to see that the government has listened to employers and has looked to reflect their thinking in these latest proposals.


It gives me great hope that employers irrespective of size will see the benefits of offering good quality apprenticeships ‎as we do in Airbus.

EEF CEO, Terry Scuoler, said:

Apprenticeships are critical for our industry, but manufacturers have long been wary of the levy and wanted it to be delayed until they could be satisfied it was fit-for-purpose. Today’s announcement clearly reflects our sector’s concerns and is a significant step forward.


Allowing employers a longer period of time to spend their digital funds and recognising the cost of investing in higher quality STEM apprenticeships are 2 important features in creating a levy that will reward employers investing in high-quality training for the long-term. There are many positives to take away from today’s announcement and the government has shown willing to work closely with industry on some of the remaining outstanding issues.


Timing is now all important. With a shrinking window of opportunity to prepare for the levy, government must pull a final implementation plan out of the bag quickly. At the same time, it must be mindful that employers as well as government need time to prepare for the sea change in apprenticeship funding next year.

The Association of Colleges Chief Executive, David Hughes, said:

It is clear that the government has listened to colleges, training providers and employers. We will all need to work in partnership to ensure that the levy is a success and that the reforms to apprenticeships deliver for students, employers and for inclusive economic growth. The levy and the reforms are big shifts in the apprenticeship programme which will need sensitive and watchful handling. The Association of Colleges will continue to work closely with the government to help with those changes and support colleges to seize the opportunities that the funding reforms and new register will create.

New College Durham Principal, John Widdowson, said:

Apprenticeships lie at the heart of our college strategy to give businesses and other organisations the skilled and capable people they need to succeed. They give our learners of all ages the skills, competencies and knowledge employers demand whilst at the same time laying the foundations for exciting careers and productive lives. The apprenticeship levy is an opportunity to establish new partnerships between the college, local employers and our apprentices. We will build on what has already been achieved to make us all even more successful in the future, contributing to economic growth and productivity.

Read our full apprenticeship funding announcement.

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