Apprenticeships failing retailers, BRC says

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apprenticeship levy BRC Helen Dickinson
The trade body warned that the apprenticeship levy is “not working” for retailers
// The BRC warns apprenticeship levy is “not working” for retailers
// In the first quarter of the 2018-2019 financial year, apprenticeship schemes’ number of retail starters dropped 15%

The BRC has criticised the government’s approach to the apprenticeship levy, which it says is failing retailers despite the sector contributing £160 million to the scheme annually.

The trade body warned that the apprenticeship levy is “not working” for retailers as the fall in new starters on retail schemes outstrips the national average.

As a result of the current system being “overly rigid”, many retailers are prevented “from making full use of their apprenticeship levy pot,” BRC said.


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In the first quarter of the 2018-2019 financial year, apprenticeship schemes saw the number of retail starters on drop by 15 per cent.

The number of starters on Level 2 retail apprenticeship schemes also declined by 20 per cent during the period.

“The government’s current approach to apprenticeships is not working. Retailers continue to pay into an apprenticeship levy pot, yet the number of starts has been falling dramatically,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.

“Government should make good on their pledge to reform the levy, allowing retailers to make better use of the system and increasing the investment they make in the UK’s 3 million retail workers.”

Chair of the Education Select Committee Rob Halfon MP said: “We have to ensure that retail apprenticeships are a real ladder of opportunity for people wanting to get skills and jobs for the future.

“We need to look at possible reform of the levy and the tax system to make sure that we can incentivise and help retailers navigate through the bureaucracy, and encourage them to see apprentices as a vital part of their workforce.”

Last year, the Open University found that over £3 billion in Apprenticeship Levy funding in the UK remains unused, despite support for the system from employers.

Two out of five employers – many of which are retailers – said they wanted “significant” changes to the levy.

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