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Don't let Brexit delay the apprenticeship levy, warns the AELP

The Association of Colleges also speaks of uncertainty over funding for the FE sector after the UK votes to leave the European Union

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The Association of Colleges also speaks of uncertainty over funding for the FE sector after the UK votes to leave the European Union

The boss of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has insisted that the timetable for the apprenticeship levy “should not be delayed” in the wake of the UK’s exit from the European Union.

FE leaders are calling for the government to maintain its target and schedule for creating 3 million apprenticeships by 2020, despite the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

Last week skills minister Nick Boles warned that it may not be “prudent” for the apprenticeship levy to go ahead according to the proposed timescale if the UK voted to leave the EU.

But today AELP chief executive Mark Dawe said that the levy “should not be delayed”, while Martin Doel, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, has called for the government to “properly support” colleges and their students.

Mr Dawe said: “We believe that the scheduled April 2017 start for the apprenticeship levy should not be delayed. If anything, the referendum result means that a skilled British workforce will be needed more than ever, so the target of 3 million apprenticeship starts by 2020 takes on a new significance.

“All sectors, especially examples such as construction, hospitality and care, are and will be heavily dependent on having good quality training in place, so it is vital that government investment in skills programmes is maintained backed by the levy.”

'Colleges must be properly supported'

Mr Doel said: “Whatever the future holds for Britain once it leaves the EU, colleges and their students must be properly supported. They are, and must continue to be, at the forefront of providing education and training to ensure people are skilled and that companies stay competitive.

“Colleges are currently planning their budgets for 2016-17 and uncertainty over the future of their funding leaves them unable to plan accurately for the coming year. The government must make it clear as soon as possible how it will continue to fund education and training for the good of everyone.”

Questions now remain about the future of the UK’s portion of the European Social Fund (ESF), which was created to increase job opportunities and skill levels. In 2014-15, FE providers received more than £300 million from the ESF through the Skills Funding Agency.

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