New apprenticeship funding plan ‘is fair’

Brian Berry.
Brian Berry.

New apprenticeship funding proposals announced by the government look like a ‘fair settlement for small employers’, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Brian Berry, FMB chief executive, said: “Getting skills and apprenticeships policy right is essential to the UK, and particularly so to the construction industry right now.

“We face serious skills shortages in our industry at the moment. The only long term cure for this is to recruit and train more people, in particular to attract a new generation of talent to take on the skilled jobs the industry creates.

“Small and medium-sized firms do the majority of training in our industry – micro businesses (those employing fewer than 10 people) alone train around half of all construction apprentices. It is therefore crucial that new apprenticeship funding arrangements work for these firms and do not impose higher costs on them.

“The funding arrangements appear to strike a reasonable balance, which takes into account the support that small employers need.

“Those employers with wage bills of less than £3m, who will fall beneath the threshold for paying the new Apprenticeship Levy, will be required to pay 10 per cent contributions towards the cost of training and assessment. This means most small employers should not end up paying more towards training costs than they currently do.

“Furthermore, FMB members report significantly higher costs and difficulties associated with training apprentices straight out of school. Therefore, it is right that for small employers training 16-18 year olds this co-investment requirement will be waived and a further £1,000 payment will be paid to employers to help with these costs.”