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Minister and businesses defend apprenticeship levy

Business leaders and apprenticeship providers pen an open letter with skills minister Anne Milton

apprenticeship levy government business funding

Business leaders and apprenticeship providers pen an open letter with skills minister Anne Milton

Business leaders and apprenticeship providers have joined skills minister Anne Milton and Institute for Apprenticeships chief executive Sir Gerry Berragan in defending the apprenticeship levy.

In an open letter published this morning, the 51 signatories, who include Mark Stewart, general manager and HR director at Airbus; Mike Thompson, head of apprenticeships at Barclays; and Paul Devoy, chief executive of Investors in People, say they have “all seen first-hand that apprenticeships can change the lives of apprentices – and the businesses they work with – for the better". They add that they believe that the apprenticeship levy gives employers a real opportunity to invest in training, bringing the well-recognised enthusiasm and new ideas of apprentices to their business.

They add that higher and advanced level apprenticeships are “a passport into a range of exciting industries, including nuclear, food science, law, engineering, professional services, construction and digital technology”.

Higher and degree apprenticeships 

The letter points out that degree apprenticeships, which have come in for some criticism as ways for businesses to spend their levy funding without offering new opportunities to entry-level staff, are being rolled out across a variety of subjects, with over 100 higher education institutions now on board.

It adds: “We need to make sure business has the skilled workers it needs – at all levels; and the jobs of tomorrow are likely to require a greater focus on technical education. So while it is fantastic that apprenticeship opportunities are becoming more diverse and high quality, there is more we can all do.

“University should not continue to be viewed as the only route to a successful career. Giving people choice is essential, whether they pursue a technical route or an academic one. That’s why we should support employers in making use of the levy, and in providing opportunities for people to learn, earn and get on in life.”


  • Anne Milton, apprenticeships and skills minister
  • Sir Gerry Berragan, CEO, Institute for Apprenticeships
  • Euan Blair and Sophie Adelman, co-founders, WhiteHat
  • Steve Dalton, managing director, Sony Global Manufacturing & Operations Corporation
  • Andy Palmer, president & CEO, Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd
  • Mark Stewart, general manager and HR director, Airbus
  • Mike Thompson, head of apprenticeships, Barclays
  • Bruce Carnegie-Brown, chairman of Lloyd’s of London, chairman of Group, vice-chairman of Banco Santander BA
  • Sir Peter Lampl, founder, Sutton Trust
  • Dalton Leong, chief executive, The Children's Trust
  • Dame Louise Makin, CEO, BTG plc
  • Phil Spence, chief operating officer, The British Library
  • Chris Blackburn, pro vice-chancellor & Dean, Oxford Brookes Business School, Oxford Brookes University
  • Timothy Wheeler, vice-chancellor and principal, University of Chester
  • Baback Yazdani, dean of Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University
  • Professor Angus Laing FRSA, dean, Lancaster University Management School
  • Lucy Ireland, managing director, British Computer Society Learning and Development
  • Karen Price OBE, CEO, Tech Partnership
  • Ann Francke, CEO, Chartered Management Institute
  • Joanne Gogerly, operations manager, Siemens
  • Paul Devoy, chief executive, Investors in People
  • Gail Bayes, deputy director of NTW Academy Development, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust
  • Rosalind Penny, Assistant Director of Organisation Development, Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust
  • Krista Brown, recruitment director, the SES Group
  • Dr Rami Ranger CBE, chairman, Sun Mark
  • Gemma Simmonds, head of career and development, Colas Rail
  • Ben Rowland, co-founder, Arch Apprentices
  • Anne Thomas, head of Serco Education, Serco UK & Europe
  • John Jeffcock, chief executive, Winmark C-Suite
  • Paul Cadman, HR director, Walter Smith Fine Foods Ltd
  • Bridget Bartlett, chair of the Construction and Built Environment Education Advisory Committee; trustee of University College of Estate Management 
  • Jeannette Lichner, managing director, KOF Business Solutions
  • Gillian Wilmot, chairman of UK Coaching; founder and CEO of Board Mentoring; member of the Industrial Development Advisory Board
  • Justin Rix, partner, Grant Thornton UK LLP
  • David A Hare, associate director, Talent Solutions, Growth Services, Grant Thornton UK LLP
  • Christopher Bones, chairman and co-founder, Good Growth Limited
  • Zoe Cunningham, managing director, Softwire
  • Robert Vince, director, JRV Associates Ltd
  • Chris McLaughlin, leadership learning manager, Ricoh UK
  • Dawn Ward CBE, chief executive and principal, Burton and South Derbyshire College
  • Duncan Cheatle, CEO, Learn Amp
  • Garry Phillips, CEO, West London College
  • Karen Jones, group human resources director, Redrow Homes Limited
  • Mark Kenrick, CEO, px limited 
  • Dylan Hannigan, education manager, KFC UK & Ireland
  • Matt Chamberlain, apprenticeship business partner, Wirral University Teaching Hospital
  • Brian May, managing director, Berthon Boat Company Ltd

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