Responding to the NAO’s report on apprenticeships, LGA skills spokesman Cllr Mark Hawthorne MBE, said:
“Local government is fully behind the Government’s ambitious commitment to create three million new apprenticeships by 2020, as we know how critical skills development is for our own workforces, local businesses and residents. For the Government not to achieve its own target is a missed opportunity to drive up productivity and start to close local skills gaps.
“With a 26 per cent fall in apprenticeship starts between 2015/16 and 2017/18 and many employers still struggling to spend their funds nearly two years after the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, further reform to enable greater local flexibility is desperately needed.
“The Government must use its review of the Apprenticeship Levy to engage with employers, including councils, to understand and resolve the barriers they currently face in order to make the new system a success.
“Critical to creating more apprenticeships will be ensuring local areas retain any unspent Levy funds they generate and pool their contributions so they can take a more strategic approach to promote and increase the take up of high quality apprenticeships and the Apprenticeship Levy by local residents and employers, which has been a barrier to date. Assurance that the Government will extend the deadline for expiring Apprenticeship Levy contributions is also critical to this goal.”