The apprenticeship levy was hailed as a game-changer that would turbo-charge the training programme.
The reality hasn’t matched up to the hype. Monthly figures for apprenticeship starts are still way down from before the levy came in.
A question has emerged: how is apprenticeship funding actually being spent? The main growth area in recent years has been in higher-level apprenticeships – the number of learners starting these has been growing by around 10,000 apprentices a year since 2011-12.
So, is this really the best use of money? “We have seen examples where existing graduate schemes are in essence being rebadged as apprenticeships,” says Ofsted’s annual report, published this week. “This might meet the rules of the levy policy, but it falls well short of its spirit.”
And what does this skewing towards expensive, higher-level courses mean for the overall costs of the programme?
Figures presented last week by Robert Nitsch, the Institute for Apprenticeships’ chief operating officer, suggest that the £2.2 billion apprenticeships budget for 2018-19
is set to be overspent by £500 million – rising to £1.5 billion by 2020-21.
And on Tuesday, the IfA announced that it plans to review the funding bands for 30 more apprenticeship standards to ensure they provide “value for money”.
Expect funding levels for several of these apprenticeships to be cut ...