Southampton employers had their questions about the controversial apprenticeship levy answered at the Future Skills and Vocational Education engagement event held by Totton College on 29 April.
Fiona Willmot from the Skill Funding Agency spoke about which businesses would be affected and how the money will be used. The levy which is due to come in to force in April 2017, is part of government plans to create three million new apprenticeships by 2020. Fiona Willmot addressed concerns by highlighting that 98% of businesses wouldn’t be obliged to pay due to turnover size and that subsidies would be reinvested back in to the scheme through the employers’ apprenticeship training fund. Levy payers will be entitled to a further 10% of this.
Leading representatives from Appello Ltd, Harvest Fine Foods, Dyer & Butler and Dodd Group were among 60 delegates who attended the event. The aim was to discuss how the newly reformed College of vocational excellence will work with businesses to tackle skills gaps locally.
Julian Lewis, MP for New Forest East spoke about the exciting opportunities available to employers, he commented:
“There really is a wow factor as you arrive here at Totton College, what fantastic facilities and what an exciting time to be part of its development. The blue print is being written for the future of vocational education here in Totton and employers in this room are being invited to help shape it.”
Paul Lester CBE spoke about the two way responsibility between employers and educators. He described his own experiences of a vocational engineering degree that gave an unparalleled grounding for his early engineering career and how employers needed to work with colleges to recruit and develop the talent of the future.
A question and answer session was held with the panel of speakers sparking discussions around the level of quality that can now be expected through apprenticeships. Fiona Willmot then outlined the new, recently published apprenticeship standards, designed to regulate and improve the apprenticeship scheme. Julian Lewis described how attendees were given a ‘unique opportunity to buy a ticket’ and work with Totton College to provide the skills and training they needed.
“The easiest selling point when it comes to apprenticeships is the fact that these young people get paid. Not only can they negate the huge costs associated with university, but they actually get to take money home while they train, it really is win, win.”