UK Outlines Apprenticeships Plan

Prime Minister David Cameron

Compoanies bidding for government contract should muster enough apprentices…reports Asian Lite News

Prime Minister David Cameron addressing the press at No 10 Downing Street (File)
Prime Minister David Cameron addressing the press at No 10 Downing Street (File)

Companies bidding for government contracts worth more than £10m must show they have a “reasonable proportion” of apprentices.

“The greatest asset any employer has is their workforce,” the Prime Minister said.”And by investing in them, they are investing in the success and future of their business,” he added.

The government also reaffirmed plans for an apprenticeship levy, with large companies investing in a fund that is used to train workers.

“Skilled people are the lifeblood of a strong economy, but for too long UK businesses have invested too little in developing their employees’ skills to meet the demands of a competitive, global market,” said Skills Minister Nick Boles. reports BBC News.

A government consultation is seeking views on paying the levy, which is expected to be in place by April, 2017. The plan for a levy raised questions from EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation.

“With little detail of the level of the levy, who will be required to pay it and how much government will give back in return, manufacturers have a right to remain sceptical that the levy will create the three million additional quality apprenticeships that we all wish to see,” Terry Scuoler, chief executive at EEF told BBC News.

He added that a number of large manufacturers “will be surprised by the suggestion from government that it is they who are currently failing to invest in apprenticeships”.

The government said levy systems already operated in more than 50 countries.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) welcomed the announcement of the apprentice plan. “Apprenticeship schemes can play a part in meeting important ambitions to boost skills and drive-up productivity,” said John Longworth, the business group’s director general, reports BBC News.

But he added that plans to encourage apprenticeships should focus on small businesses, not just larger corporations.

“Government policy is currently too focused on major employers, but equal effort ought to be put on encouraging and supporting smaller businesses to offer apprenticeships,” Longworth said.

The plan is part of the government’s commitment to create three million apprenticeships by 2020.