Response to the UK Government’s Apprenticeship Levy
The UK Government's Apprenticeship Levy undermines the "uniquely Scottish" approach to modern apprentices, Employability Minister Jamie Hepburn said today.
Mr Hepburn announced that, following the UK Government's decision to implement an Apprenticeship Levy, the Scottish Government will launch a consultation on 13 July to seek views on how the Levy can enhance productivity and economy growth in Scotland.
The consultation will seek views on:
- continued commitment to 30,000 high quality modern apprenticeship starts by 2020 – including an offer to support further opportunities if there is sufficient demand from industry
- developing more graduate level apprenticeships
- creating an employer fund for wider workforce development
- providing support for those outside the labour market to prepare them to enter the skilled workforce employers need for their business
Mr Hepburn said:
"The introduction of this Levy is of fundamental concern for us. The UK Government has introduced this Levy without any consultation with Scotland, despite the fact that apprenticeship policy is devolved to the Scottish Parliament. We believe that this Levy undermines our uniquely Scottish approach to apprenticeships and imposes an unnecessary financial burden on employers. However we are determined to work with industry to ensure that opportunities to enhance workforce skills and productivity sit at the heart of our response to the introduction of the Levy.
"We know that businesses need clarity on the way forward. That is why we have already worked with industry to inform how we can best use this levy to support our young people and meet the needs of our business. Over recent months the Scottish Government has been engaging with a range of employers and representatives across a variety of sectors to better understand the impact that the Levy will have, and their thoughts on how Levy funding could be used in to enhance productivity and economic growth.
"After those discussions with employers it is clear that they are looking for a wider approach than what is being developed by the UK Government. This is why we have decided to consult with industry on how this levy can be used to support apprenticeships and wider skills development. An important part of this consultation will involve working with the newly established Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board as well as other industry bodies and individual employers.
"In Scotland, we are seeing some real success in supporting young people into work and making sure that they have the right skills for the future. We have surpassed our target to deliver 25,500 modern apprenticeship starts this year, this will now increase to 26,000 for the year ahead and we are looking to work with employers to support our ambitions to increase starts to 30,000 by 2020. Our commitment to growing and enhancing the Modern Apprenticeship programme remains a key priority for this Government"
John F McClelland, Chair of Skills Development Scotland and Chair of the newly formed Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board, said: "Apprenticeships are crucial to the Scottish economy and in order to go from strength to strength then employers need to be consulted and have their voices heard.
"The Board has been established to provide this employer leadership and contribution to the development of apprenticeships in Scotland, ensuring they are aligned with industry and economic need, Fair Work and job opportunities.
"Led by employers and representatives from industry bodies across a range of sectors, the Board will contribute to the consultation process and also actively encourage others with a shared interest in apprenticeships to participate."