The government may be considering opening up the apprenticeship levy for non-apprenticeship training.
In its response to the Taylor Report, the government said it will consider a recommendation to open up apprenticeship levy funds for providing training other than apprenticeships.
The government’s official response, which was released last week by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, stated: “We agree to consider [the] next steps following delivery of current targets.”
However, the Department for Education refused to confirm or deny that it is considering opening the levy up to non-apprenticeship training.
A DfE spokesperson said: “The apprenticeship levy is providing a real opportunity to tackle the skills issues which we are currently facing. We have been clear that the use of funds is to allow employers to introduce more quality apprenticeships.”
Published last July, the Taylor Report, which looked at modern working practices, called for ministers to consider making levy funds available for “high-quality, off-the-job training other than apprenticeships” once the government had met its target of three million apprenticeships.
Loosening of position
If the levy was allowed to spent on non-apprenticeship training, it would mark a loosening of the government’s position, which until now was firm that levy funds must be spent on apprenticeship training in England.
The report, which was led by chief executive of the Royal Society of Arts Matthew Taylor, stated: “The government should consider making the funding generated by the levy available for high-quality, off-the-job training other than apprenticeships.”
In its response last week, the government said: “The changes are still relatively new, and we will continue to assess the impact of the levy and the apprenticeships reforms on employers, providers and individuals. We will continue to work with employers on how the apprenticeship levy can be spent so the levy works effectively and flexibly for industry, and supports productivity across the country.”
Target 'long way off'
Chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) Mark Dawe said the levy was driving a change of culture.
He added: “In particular when employers and young people are determining what the best route to degree level achievement is with the degree apprenticeship gaining significant momentum. At the current rate of progress, achievement of the three million target is a long way off but with some small transitional changes, starts could at least match previous numbers especially for the more disadvantaged and smaller businesses.
“Once standards are available and programmes developed and the government removed from the relationship, we believe the question very quickly will be, not what else can we use the levy for, but how can we get more funding for apprenticeships.”