Elaine Bowker: How some employers are abusing the Apprenticeship Levy

Writing for LBN, the principal of the City of Liverpool College Elaine Bowker urges companies across the city region to use the apprenticeship system to offer genuine opportunities to young people

Elaine Bowker, principal of The City of Liverpool College


Apprenticeships have become a vital part of the economy and employment market and more school leavers than ever before are opting to go down the training route.

Last year to support this, the Government introduced the Apprenticeship Levy, requiring all employers operating in the UK, with an annual pay bill of more than £3m, to pay a 0.5% levy on their tax bill.

The levy was introduced to encourage employers to offer apprenticeships in meeting their skills, workforce and training needs. The UK has been falling behind the rest of the G7 on productivity and developing apprenticeships can play a key part in tackling this and bridging the skills gap.

Low-skilled jobs

For businesses, the levy is an opportunity to have a root and branch review of their structure, re-think their approach to workforce development and further grow their business. So, it’s disappointing to learn that some are abusing the system, relabelling low-skilled jobs as apprenticeships and gaining subsidies for training.

This defies the objective of the Levy and apprenticeships in general, which are designed to provide opportunities to people who are eager to learn and develop their careers, as well as helping businesses nurture the talent they need to grow.

Gain experience

As the biggest college in the city, here at the City of Liverpool College, we aim to help young people from all backgrounds gain experience in their chosen profession. We work closely with some of the biggest and best employers in the region to ensure our students get the most out of their experience by teaching them the advanced skills required to work in their chosen industry.

The employers we work with look for students with passion and an appetite to learn on the job, to help create an industry of young, employable professionals.  

We have some great partnerships across a range of sectors and we are proud to be delivering the skills the city region needs by offering training and support for employers around the impact of the reforms and the introduction of the apprenticeship standards

Motivated workforce

The very best firms are the ones who have a motivated, highly skilled and trained workforce. A successful apprenticeship scheme should instil a strong work ethic, professional pride and high expectations into the participants, as well as encouraging extra-curricular activities for personal development.

Apprenticeships and training of the very highest calibre play a vital role, not just for businesses here in Liverpool, but also for the region’s economy as a whole to help people and businesses thrive, and I would encourage our region’s businesses to consider how they could benefit.

Our talented people, with their desire and determination to learn, hold the key to boosting businesses in the region.

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