New apprenticeship data released today by the Department for Education suggests the Government needs to look again at the way the Apprenticeship Levy is working.

Dr Joe Marshall, Chief Executive of the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB), said: “It is positive step forward that official figures released today reveal that the number of apprenticeship starts has increased by 7% in the previous year. It’s also encouraging that nearly two thirds of these starts were supported by the Apprenticeship Levy.”

Marshall concluded: “Whilst commendable, if the Government is serious about ensuring the Levy has the desired effect, and increases meaningful training across all sectors, it should introduce greater flexibility into the Levy. We are dealing with an acute and severe skills crisis. Indeed, the latest results of the Employer Skills Survey show a significant increase in skills gaps and vacancies have been persistently high at around 1 million. We therefore need to iron out the flaws in the Apprenticeship Levy to give us the best chance of tackling this head on. Companies should be able to make full use of their Levy funds to increase the skills of their workforce. This will meet business needs by broadening the variety of high-quality training accessible to young people and adults.”