Latest government figures reveal that the drop in apprenticeship starts since the introduction of the levy is getting even worse.
In February 2018, there were 21,800 apprenticeship starts – a drop of 40 per cent on the February 2017 figure of 36,400. Overall, there were 232,700 apprenticeship starts between August 2017 and February 2018 – down by 25 per cent from the same period in 2016-17.
Chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, Mark Dawe, said: “The levy itself isn’t the problem but the manner of its implementation is letting down thousands of SMEs and young people across the country.”
“Our simple solution has been sitting on the minister’s desk for months, namely that for the time being the government should stop charging small employers for taking on young apprentices at levels 2 and 3. Action must be taken now if the government wants to achieve its manifesto target.”
Skills minister Anne Milton remained defiant, saying: “The number of people starting on the old style apprenticeships has fallen, but the number of people starting on our new, higher-quality apprenticeships are increasing well beyond our expectations. We won’t sacrifice that quality to increase quantity.”