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Niace: use levy to widen access to apprenticeships

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Money raised from the apprenticeship levy should be used to widen access to work-based learning for under-represented groups, according to adult education body Niace.

In their joint submission ahead of the government’s joint spending review, Niace and the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion (Inclusion) have proposed a new apprenticeship quality and access fund.

The fund, ring-fenced from cash raised through the apprenticeship levy on large employers, would widen access to apprenticeships and fund employer-led initiatives to improve outcomes for apprentices and businesses.

About £1 billion is currently spent on widening access to universities, but there is currently no funding for similar initiatives in apprenticeships.

Niace and Inclusion, which in July announced plans to merge, say the measure would improve the gender balance and the representation of black and minority ethnic people, as well as those with disabilities.

The submission also sets out proposals for personal career accounts, a single funding agency for all post-19 loans, a new “radical vision” for community learning to support the breadth of government policy and a refocusing of employment support for disabled people.

David Hughes, chief executive of Niace, said the government must use the spending review to make an “important commitment” to prioritise investment in learning, skills and employment.

“This is critical to nurturing our economy, helping to strengthen productivity and ensuring that economic growth is inclusive,” he said. “Our proposals are good for people and businesses, boosting opportunity and competitiveness in the global economy and improving public services – contributing to sustainable improvements in tax revenues and reductions in spending pressures.”

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