Apprenticeship funding reforms could put off SMEs

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has spoken out about recent government proposals on funding reforms for apprenticeships, fearing SMEs will be deterred from hiring apprentices.

In an AELP survey, it was found that 77% of employers said that at least two of the consultation’s three options, including the PAYE rebate model, would not encourage them and other employers to offer apprenticeships.  Most respondents also felt that employers, particularly SMEs, would not be prepared, or would not be able, to make the significant cash contribution to training required under all three options.

AELP chief executive Stewart Segal said: “We support the objectives for reforming apprenticeships, but evidence from the front line shows that the proposed solutions for directly funding employers are not supported by many employers, particularly SMEs.

“As ministers have said, apprenticeships are a success story.  Employers and providers have real concerns about the consultation proposals.  We want to see improvements that engage employers in the programme and reforms that build on the success of apprenticeships.”