On Friday, the decision was announced that the UK is to leave the European Union, and with doubts already surrounding the detail and implementation of the apprenticeship levy does this mean that it’s set to be scrapped?
Ahead of the referendum last week Skills Minister, Nick Boles, stated that a decision to leave the EU could lead to the abolishment of the levy which is currently due to be implemented in April 2017. His reasoning behind the warning was based on a prediction that leaving the EU will result in another recession and consequently a rise in unemployment and instability in the economy, and so a new tax would be disastrous for businesses.
Of course, no-one knows whether these predictions from Nick Boles will become reality and during a time when there will be uncertainty, especially with the resignation of David Cameron, it’s key that businesses focus on the positive messages and take steps to plan for any eventuality to avoid these expectations.
Chief Executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), Mark Dawe, has already spoken out calling for confirmation sooner rather than later on the timetable for the implementation of the levy to ensure confidence remains amongst businesses who rely heavily on accessible apprenticeship programmes. He has explained how the target to reach 3 million apprentices by 2020 should not be delayed, as now is the time to embrace the plans as they take on new meaning for the future.
An additional area that could be impacted by the decision is the European Social Fund (ESF); money that the UK receive to invest into job opportunities and training. This fund is given to the UK for being part of the EU and so our decision to leave would lead to a withdrawal in the funds, which during 2014-15 saw FE providers receive more than £300million from the ESF.
There are still two years of negotiations to go through after article 50 is triggered and so any decisions made should not be rash or taken lightly. Only time will tell what the future holds, and hopefully businesses will not be waiting long for confirmation of the apprenticeship levy.
To discuss any concerns you’re having regarding the future of your apprenticeship programme you can contact the Aspire Training Team advisors on 01202 551553 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.