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Plan to create three million apprenticeships by 2020 'unattainable', report says

The government’s target of creating three million apprenticeships by 2020 will be “unattainable” unless action is taken to make the apprenticeship process more appealing to employers, a report has claimed.

The report by policy consultancy SQW said the introduction of the apprenticeship levy was unlikely to “address the endemically low level of apprenticeship adoption by employers”.

The levy, which was due to come into force next April, will see companies with annual wage bills over £3m paying 0.5 per cent of their PAYE into a government fund.

The Department for Education’s skills minister Robert Halfon has unveiled details of how the levy will work, nearly two months later than expected.

There were concerns among contractors that the new levy could reduce apprenticeship starts, with some calling for a delay to its implementation.

For the government to achieve its three million target by 2020, the number of apprenticeship starts will need to increase by 20 per cent each year for the next three years.

SQW chief executive David Crichton-Miller said that unless changes were made, this “would remain unattainable on this trajectory”.

The report said reforms, such as the creation of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, would discourage firms from taking on apprentices, particularly among smaller businesses.

It added that the current reform policy was “insufficiently employer-led and evidence-based” and would not overturn decades of weak employer engagement.

SQW proposed a change in policy that would focus on taking a more sectoral approach to apprenticeships and make taking on apprenticeships more appealing to businesses by giving them more input into how frameworks are created.

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