Now that the apprenticeship levy has completed its first full year of operation, this report reviews the available evidence to determine whether the levy will, as the Government hopes, ‘incentivise more employers to provide quality apprenticeships’ and ‘transform the lives of young people who secure them’.
In the six months after the levy was introduced (April – October 2017), the number of people starting an apprenticeship fell by 40 per cent compared to the same period in the previous year. A similar downward trend was also evident across November and December. In addition, more experienced and older workers are increasingly becoming the focus of the apprenticeship programme, at the expense of less experienced and younger employees. Alongside the levy, the Conservative Party remains committed to its 2015 manifesto pledge that 3 million people will start an apprenticeship by 2020. Commentators have consistently raised concerns over this target as it prioritises the quantity of apprenticeships rather than their quality.