Spring Budget 2017 – Apprenticeships and Skills Development Funding Review

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond’s first Spring Budget was released today, with a key focus on increasing funding for skills development of young people. Here are our Joint Owner, Peter Marples’ views on the Spring Budget.

Welcomed additional funding for the training of 16-18-year-olds

There is an additional £500 million of funding in the Spring Budget, that has been allocated to the training of 16 to 18-year-olds through new vocational pathways. This is an encouraging sign but we hope it doesn’t result in the establishment of the previous Centres of Vocational Institutes of the past – or indeed the mandatory requirement come 2022 for 16 – 18-year-olds to be studying in Colleges and not given the option to undertake an Apprenticeship.

As a business, 3aaa Apprenticeships have been providing life-changing opportunities to young people all over England for more than 7 years now, with a particular focus on getting 16 to 18-year-olds into a career they’re passionate about.

The Apprenticeship reforms have made this provision increasingly difficult to fulfil but as a company, 3aaa Apprenticeships have developed our offering to incorporate both young people and those looking to upskill in the workplace through the Apprenticeship Levy, to become industry leading in our approach.

It was disappointing to hear little mention in the Spring Budget of the Apprenticeship Levy, in particular how the Government is planning to fulfil the requirements and demands of the SME communities, who represent over 98% of employers in the UK. Sole focus is on companies paying the Apprenticeship Levy, but the Government does need to continue to support and fund training and recruitment of Apprentices for SME’s, who are still and will remain, the largest supporters of Apprenticeships in England.

Varied educational paths and clear, unbiased guidance for 16 to 18 year olds

The additional funding in the Spring Budget for the training of 16 to 18-year-olds needs to be distributed across all educational routes, to encourage clear decision making by this key age group, so that they can choose their education wisely, based on unbiased information with their passions and career at the fore. This will allow businesses to be in a position where they can recruit ambitious, talented and skilled workforces.

Effective bridge-building between post-16, Apprenticeships and adult provision

The progression route from leaving school to becoming a highly educated, highly experienced member of staff needs to be clarified and explained clearly from the offset. Too many young people choose sixth form or University as their career path because independent careers advice is still lacking, or in some cases non-existent. Apprenticeship could be a more appropriate pathway for many, even more so with degree level Apprenticeships now available for most professions, and will soon be available for even more.

Further Government investment in young people is promising, but there is the need to provide real clarity on the support and funding for SME’s. A transitional budget of £1bn will be required over the next 3 years, to introduce SMEs into the new funding format and not negatively impact the progress that has been made.

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