BRC says levy flexibility could create 8,000 new retail apprenticeships

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has written to Secretary of State for Education, Nadhim Zahawi MP, calling on government to use the upcoming Spring Statement to introduce much-needed flexibility to the Apprenticeship Levy.

There are three main changes which could improve the functioning of the Levy for businesses, allowing more training to take place and reducing the huge amount of unused funds currently sitting in retailer Levy accounts:

1. Allow high-quality short courses in functional skills - current Levy fund rules mean courses have to be a minimum of one year in duration. Short courses are crucial to improving productivity in retail.
2. Allow Levy funds to cover associated training costs – these include transport, or backfilling roles to free up staff for off-site training.
3. Allow a wider range of courses to be supported through Levy funds – allow funds to be used to support more young people through vital pre-employment and pre-apprenticeship programmes.

Writing to Zahawi, the letter noted that. “Figures suggest if these changes were made, upwards of 8,000 additional apprenticeship places could be created across retail.” The BRC hopes to meet the Secretary of State to discuss possible changes to the Apprenticeship scheme.

Helen Dickinson, BRC's Chief Executive, (pictured) said, “Bringing about more flexibility in the Apprenticeship Levy would not cost Government or businesses a penny but could help bring about an estimated 8,000 new apprenticeship places across the retail industry.

'To deliver on government commitments to upskilling the UK workforce, we need the Apprenticeship Levy to work for both businesses and apprentices.”