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Government’s skills policy should not be guided by numbers only

31 Jan 2017
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The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has cast doubts about the Government’s policy to increase the number of apprentices.

The Government pledged to fulfil its election promise to create three million apprenticeships by 2020. This will be funded by the new apprenticeship levy, which is scheduled to come into effect from April 2017.

The IFS contested the Government’s claim that the apprenticeship levy will generate £2.8 billion by 2019-2020, arguing instead that apprenticeship spending will rise by just £0.6 billion.

The National Federation of Builders (NFB) has previously called on the Government to develop a strategic and targeted approach to addressing the construction skills crisis. With many workers set to retire by 2025, the construction industry needs to recruit at least 40,000 new workers a year to cope with its current work pipeline.

However, the NFB believes that the current Government’s approach to this issue is neither strategic nor targeted.

Paul Bogle, head of policy and research for the NFB, said: “The skills shortages in construction differ from region to region. That is why we need a more targeted approach.

The Government’s apprenticeship levy seems driven more by the self-imposed need to meet numerical targets, rather than focusing on providing high-quality apprenticeships. That is not what the construction industry needs.”