Motor Industry trade bodies have expressed dismay over the arrangements put in place for apprenticeships.
IMI Chief Steve Nash says the piecemeal approach of Government apprenticeship reforms is a ‘potential disaster for the motor industry’. Nash is urging ministers to undertake a wholesale review before pressing ahead with the changes. Meanwhile, RMI Bodyshop Director Jason Moseley warned that the new funding rates ‘fall concerningly short’ of those needed to deliver a ‘robust and quality’ apprenticeship programme.
Government has announced new funding arrangements for apprenticeships in connection with introduction of the Training Levy in 2017. The IMI says that many of the courses currently used by the motor industry to fill around 13,000 apprentice vacancies every year are subject to cuts of up to 50 percent in Government funding. This has sparked fears that the retail motor sector will suffer a trainee drought from next year, worsening what the IMI calls an ‘already critical skills shortage’ across the nation.
The IMI believe the Government’s plans are designed to push its ‘Trailblazer’ and ‘Employer Standards’ Apprenticeships. These courses attract three times the funding under the new arrangements than most current training schemes. £18,000 for a level three compared to £6,000 the three- year courses available now. However, with just one exception, the Institute say that none of the new schemes for the motor industry have been completed and that most won’t be fit for purpose for some time. In the meantime, the Institute believes that some of the existing courses will become economically unviable for colleges to provide leaving employers and learners in difficulty.
Nash said, “These proposed funding levels will leave some vital apprenticeships with up to 50 percent less funding. Employers around the country will struggle to get training places for their apprentices under this system. It begs the question, how this can possibly support the Government’s aim to create more apprenticeships?
Moseley said: “Funding levels in our industry are four times less than that for an aerospace technician – which is concerning to see as modern motor vehicles are often more technology laden than an aircraft. These new funding rates will affect hundreds of apprentices in our sector at a time where we should be increasing our investments – not reducing. This has a significant knock on effect to insurance companies who use our members to repair their policyholder’s vehicles safely.
“Newly appointed Apprentice Minister, Robert Halfon MP, has a golden opportunity to undertake an end to end review of the whole reform process and ensure that the new system is absolutely fit for purpose before the existing one – which delivered well over two million apprentice starts in the last parliament –
is rendered unusable”, concluded Nash.