1 July 2016

It is essential to keep SMEs in the Apprenticeships market, says Martin Dunford OBE at AELP National Conference

Smaller businesses are the key drivers of innovation and productivity and Apprenticeships underpin skills growth to meet their needs. This was one of the messages from Martin Dunford OBE, Chief Executive of Skills Training UK and Chairman of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), as he welcomed delegates to AELP’s 2016 National Conference held on 27-28 June in London.

Skills Training UK, as a leading independent training, Apprenticeships and Traineeships provider, is one of 800 AELP members delivering 76% of all apprenticeships to employers. With the Government’s new Apprenticeships Levy and Reforms set to be introduced from April 2017, he said it is essential for Government to work closely with AELP and its members on the implementation details, too many of which are still to be finalised.

Speaking at the AELP National Conference on Monday 27 June, Martin Dunford OBE, Chief Executive, Skills Training UK and Chairman, AELP, said:

“There are many implementation issues with the Apprenticeships Levy and a list of policy challenges. How much, if anything, SMEs will have to pay for Apprenticeships after April 2017, is not clear and it is easy for this detail to be lost in the Levy brand. SMEs are key drivers of innovation and productivity and it is absolutely essential to keep them in the Apprenticeships market.

“The only reason the Government can set the ambitious 3 million target is because of the success achieved by Independent Training Providers. We deliver three in four Apprenticeships and we are recognised by Government as their Sales Force. We must be and are there to be listened to and be an integral part of the process regarding the implementation of the Levy and the other Apprenticeship Reforms.”

Skills Training UK partners with large, private and public sector employers  as well as SMEs to deliver bespoke apprenticeships in sectors including hi-tech manufacturing, aerospace, pharmaceuticals, automotive, IT, web, telecoms and NHS.

From April 2017 the current policy is that the Apprenticeship Levy and Reforms will be introduced for all new apprenticeships. All employers with a pay bill of over £3 million per annum will pay a Levy equivalent to 0.5%. The Levy will be paid to HMRC via the PAYE process alongside income tax and National Insurance. An allowance of £15,000 will be offset against the levy liability.

All employers will have to set up a Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS) account for the administration of payments and the Government will apply a 10% top up to monthly funds entering Levy-paying employers’ digital accounts. Employers will use the accounts to pay their training providers for the training and assessment of their apprentices.

Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SME) who are non-Levy payers will be required to co-invest a small proportion of funding towards the cost of their apprenticeship training, but the amounts have not yet been set. Nick Boles MP, Minister for Skills, speaking at the conference later on 27 June, said that the Levy start date would still be April 2017 and that there would be announcements in the next few weeks regarding details.

Skills Training UK is providing a complete Apprenticeships offer, for both Levy and non-Levy paying SME employers. It is committed to working closely with current and prospective employer clients to help them understand the Levy and Apprenticeships Reforms.

Another development in the training market over the next two years, outlined by Martin Dunford OBE in his speech, will be the devolvement of the Adult Skills Budget. Skills Training UK, which has wide numbers of strong partnerships with employers in local regions across the UK, will be working with Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and Local Authorities to meet the needs of their local economic and skills plans.

The delivery of Traineeships for 16 – 24 year-olds, which lead to Apprenticeships, jobs and/or further education or training, will be part of the Adult Skills Budget managed by LEPs.

For details of Skills Training UK’s Apprenticeships and Traineeships see www.skillstraininguk.com/employers  


Photo Caption: Skills Training UK’s apprenticeship delivery for employers like ventilation manufacturer Lindab has upskilled staff and boosted productivity in line with the company’s business goals.

Contact Us