The deadline for submissions to the consultation on the implementation of the apprenticeship levy programme announced in the budget is on Friday. The questions asked indicate just how flawed the proposal is. As I said when I blogged on the skill proposals in the budget, the case for a return to 1970s style levies and grants is based on a model of off-the-job training which has been made largely obsolete by the rise of on-line distance learning and assessment to global, as opposed to UK-centric standards. The “killer” statistics used to justify the proposal (Figure 8 on Page 20 of “Fixing a Broken Training System) effectively “blame” the rise of employer driven Sector Skills Councils for a collapse in the number of “employees attending training outside their workplace” (alias classroom based FE Courses). They should instead be used to “blame” the Internet for changing the model of training used by those employers who take skills development seriously.
The proposal distracts attention from better ways of addressing our skills shortages and may help accelerate the trend to rely on supposedly skilled immigrants rather than consider those who are the “wrong” sex or colour or from the “wrong” University let alone retrain those whose legacy skills are no longer in demand or who are seeking to return to work after a career break.
I sympathise with those in the Sector Skills Councils who have been tasked to get employers views on how to try to implement this sadly mislead proposal and apologise for not making time earlier to ask those of you who read this blog to respond to their attempt to get employer inputs. I also strongly suggest you respond to the main BIS consultation. My own response, typos and all, is already available on-line . I would like to congratulate who-ever organised this facility as not only a welcome extension to open government and but also an encouragement to more rigorous proof-reading.