British Gypsum speaks out on revamped apprenticeship fees

British Gypsum has urged Chancellor Philip Hammond to hurry through the change to apprenticeship fees for businesses.

This week’s budget included confirmation that the apprenticeship levy will be reduced – for some businesses – from 10% to 5%, with the government paying the remaining 95%. However, the Chancellor didn’t fix a specific date for the change to take place, which the plaster, plasterboard and fixing brand took issue with.

British Gypsum’s National Technical Academy Manager David Hall said: “It didn’t come as a surprise that Philip Hammond confirmed that the 10% apprenticeship fees that small businesses had to pay will now be reduced to 5%. On the face of it, this is welcome news as the Apprenticeship Levy has come under much criticism since it was first introduced not least for the pressure it was putting on SMEs and their ability to deliver apprenticeship schemes. However, it is disappointing that no fixed date for this adjustment has been confirmed.

“Earlier this month the Chancellor promised that large businesses would be able to invest up to 25% of their Apprenticeship Levy to support apprentices in their supply chain and he confirmed this move in the Budget. It is a significant development. I am also particularly pleased that £5m has been set aside to support the Institute for Apprenticeships and National Apprenticeship Service in 2019-20 to help deliver reform.

“We hope that these measures will provide more opportunities to young people looking into alternative forms of higher education and will present a greater opportunity for the industry to attract new talent into its ranks through quality training and apprenticeship schemes – a crucial step to solving the country’s skills gap.”

The apprenticeship tax has been beset by controversy. Despite aiming to boost the UK’s apprenticeship schemes, it actually cut the number of workers starting apprenticeships in England.

The fastener and tools industries have had some considerable apprenticeship success stories. Torque spoke with Gesipa, SWG, TR Fastenings and the IAC to hear their experiences in apprenticeships, earlier this year.