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Future of Work

The apprenticeship levy introduced in England last year is causing “confusion and frustration” among employers and must be reformed, according to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

Jane Gratton, head of skills at the BCC is due to tell a conference on apprenticeships that the scheme is currently “unfit for purpose”. Since its introduction the number of new apprenticeships has fallen by 25%.

The government said it had put employers “at the heart” of the scheme.

In a statement, a Department for Education spokesperson said: “We continue to work with employers to make sure the levy meets their needs and they get the skills they need to grow.”

However, Ms Grattan will tell delegates in London later on Thursday that the levy is acting as a brake on skills development.

“Businesses recognise that apprenticeships are a crucial tool in shaping the skills of tomorrow, but the current restrictions and inflexibility of the system make it unfit for purpose,” she will say.

Under the scheme, which was introduced in April 2017, all employers with a wage bill greater than £3m pay 0.5% of their payroll into a central fund. In return they receive vouchers which can be used to fund apprenticeships.

Smaller firms are also expected to contribute to the costs of apprenticeships unless they employ fewer than 50 people.

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