The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) is concerned that the government’s proposed new apprenticeship levy will cut funding for construction apprenticeships by up to 30 per cent.
The Department for Education (DOE) outlined its plans for apprenticeships to be graded into a range of new bands with differing funding levels allocated from £1,500 to £27,000.
Steve Hearty, head of apprenticeships at CITB, says: “The Government’s proposed funding bands for framework apprenticeships raise real concerns for the construction industry.
“We support the new, employer-designed standards, because we think they will improve the quality of apprenticeships, and it is encouraging to note that Government state these will be funded at a higher rate than those recently published. However, no standards for construction have yet been approved and we are still working under the existing frameworks system and may well continue beyond 2017.
“Even with the sector beneficial STEM increases to funding the Government’s proposed funding bands will cut funding for construction apprenticeships by between 20 per cent and 30 per cent.
“We are concerned that training providers could stop training or they could ask employers to make up the shortfall in cost, which might deter firms from taking apprentices on.
“We have shared our concerns with DfE and will be doing formally through the formal consultation process that closes on 5 September. Employers can do the same.”
And despite welcoming the government’s emphasis on increasing investment in apprenticeships, the BSRIA has also said “time and care” should be taken on the delivery and details of the levy.
Julia Evans, chief executive of the member-based association, which provides specialist services in construction and building services, said: “There is a concern that the apprenticeship levy could run the risk of being compromised by hasty deadlines. Government must take time to get this right.
“What is paramount is the critical importance of closing the industry skills gap. Apprenticeships provide the backbone for a career in engineering for many employees and future employees within the industry and no compromises should be made regarding them.
“BSRIA understands that the CITB has agreed a transition package with firms paying both the CITB levy and the apprenticeship levy next year.
“Under the plans, employers below the £3m levy-paying threshold will only have to pay 10 per cent contributions towards the cost of training and assessment, meaning most small employers should not end up paying more towards training costs than they currently do.
“But it is irrelevant that a lot of our members will be not be directly affected since it is the larger companies (with the £3m and higher levy-paying threshold) who are going to have to pay twice. Such companies should also be allowed to lead by example regarding skills, training and industry careers, which this levy will not enable them to do. It is short-sighted of the government.”