The apprenticeship levy should be scrapped completely, says IEA expert

Responding to the news that £1bn of apprenticeship levy funds has gone unspent in the nine months since last May, Professor Len Shackleton, Editorial and Research Fellow at free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:

“The apprenticeship levy has failed in its objectives and should be scrapped completely.

“It only managed to generate half of the 3m jobs intended by 2020, and many of the apprenticeships remain at the most basic level, unsuitable for most young people.

“Apprenticeships are also less popular with newer businesses, where technologies are fast-moving and there is no fixed skillset to impart to young people.

“The process of accessing funds is complex, time-consuming, and inflexible, with only government-approved programmes eligible even though they may not meet employer needs.

“For those who cannot or choose not to access levy funding, the scheme simply acts as a payroll tax, not what we need when unemployment is expected to rise sharply.  

“It’s time to concentrate on things which the government can influence more directly, such as schools and FE colleges, where there is still plenty of room for improvement in preparing young people for the labour market.”


Notes to editors

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Prof Len Shackleton, IEA Editorial and Research Fellow, is available for further comment.

For more on apprenticeships:
The apprenticeships levy and apprenticeship targets: the economics of the cargo cult