Nick Boles: Brexit won't delay apprenticeship levy

27th June 2016 at 13:50
Nick Boles apprenticeship levy Brexit referendum
Despite his warning before the European Union referendum, skills minister Nick Boles tells AELP national conference that apprenticeship reforms are still on schedule

The apprenticeship levy is to go ahead as planned, skills minister Nick Boles has confirmed. Speaking in front of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) national conference in London today, Mr Boles said that, despite last week’s Brexit vote and the changes in government that will happen in the autumn, the Conservative party’s commitment to apprenticeships and investment in future skills development more broadly was "absolute".

"If anything, the need for investment in skills development will be even more urgent and more important for a United Kingdom that is outside the European Union than it is for one inside. Certainly not less," he said.

Mr Boles himself had questioned the future of the levy in the case of a vote for Brexit. In a speech to thinktank Policy Exchange, Mr Boles warned that it might not be "prudent" for the apprenticeship levy to go ahead if the UK voted to leave the EU. At the time, he warned that the programme could be put on hold should the UK opt for Brexit in the referendum, because business confidence could be "knocked by a decision to leave the single market". After the results were announced, concerns were also expressed by the AELP.

'The apprenticeship levy is coming'

But today, Mr Boles told the audience: "We should continue to work on the basis that the apprenticeship levy is coming in April of 2017 as planned, and in the way it was planned.”

He said the same applied to adult skills devolution and the area reviews, which had been "going surprisingly well". "I expected [the area reviews] to be more painful more quickly," added Mr Boles, who acknowledged that there would be significant challenges in some areas. 

The skills White Paper will be published before the summer recess, the skills minister also confirmed.

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