Mr Dhesi makes some important points. It’s absolutely true that we need to improve the ability of SMEs to access apprenticeships. One of the big challenges for all businesses – and SMEs in particular – is navigating the complexity of the rules and regulations which run to hundreds of pages. However, we should be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water. The levy has encouraged more employers to take apprenticeships seriously and education providers have stepped up their engagement with businesses to widen opportunity and plug skills gaps. Management apprenticeships, for example, have enabled SMEs to attract talent and benefit from high quality training that supports their business to be more effective and to grow. The best way that government can increase the take up of apprenticeships is to reduce bureaucracy and provide policy stability so that SMEs can get to grips with the rules and start benefiting from the huge potential the programme can offer.
More detail about CMI’s policy recommendations on apprenticeships and the levy can be found in our Budget Submission.