"The Budget contained a number of important changes but the Government needs to ensure they result in the overall apprenticeship reforms being coherent and making sense on the ground."
Responding to overall first year public sector apprenticeship target statistics, Cllr Sir Richard Leese, Chair of the Local Government Association’s City Regions Board, said:
“Councils and combined authorities support the ambitious target of creating 3 million apprenticeships by 2020.
“Making the most of the Apprenticeship Levy has been a challenge for them on the ground with apprenticeship standards taking too long to approve and progress being slowed down.
“Councils would need to hire the equivalent of the entire fire service each year for four years to meet their public sector target. This is at a time when councils continue to face significant and ongoing funding pressures and headcounts falling.
“The Budget contained a number of important changes but the Government needs to ensure they result in the overall apprenticeship reforms being coherent and making sense on the ground.
“The Government should use its upcoming review of the Apprenticeship Levy to give employers the power to use it more flexibly to fund some of the cost of maintaining an apprenticeship programme, extend the two-year expiry date on Levy funds where key standards for Local Authorities are still in development and allow local areas to retain Levy underspends rather than handing them back to the Treasury.
“Devolving apprenticeship funding to the local areas in which they are used is ultimately the best way to allow combined authorities and councils, schools, colleges and employers to work together to help people get the skills they need to progress in work, and supply businesses with the right skills at the right time to help local economies grow.”