FMB voices concern over apprenticeship funding

The Autumn Statement offered no clarity on the Government’s plans for apprenticeship funding reform, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
The FMB had hoped the Government would publish its response to the May 2014 consultation on funding reforms for apprenticeships.

However, the Federation are no closer to knowing if ministers have taken on their advice or if they have decided to review their proposals, which the FMB has described as ‘ill-conceived’.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “Like many organisations which represent SMEs, we have warned the Government that if it implements its apprenticeship funding reforms as proposed, they will greatly detract from the ability and desire of small firms to train apprentices. As two-thirds of all construction apprentices are trained by micro-businesses – that is the very smallest of firms – this is extremely concerning. Although we welcome the abolition of employers’ National Insurance contributions on earnings up to the upper earnings limit for apprentices aged under 25, what we really need to hear is an alternative way forward for SME apprenticeship funding. Perhaps government has decided to kick the issue into the long grass in which case I urge Ministers to respond as soon as possible – uncertainty around apprenticeship policy is the last thing our industry needs when facing an ever-growing skills gap.”

Berry did however welcome the extension of the Funding for Lending Scheme, particularly its renewed focus on SMEs.

“Acquiring appropriate levels of finance remains the single biggest barrier to construction SMEs which are trying to grow and prosper and government must pull as many levers as possible to address this issue,” he said.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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