Apprenticeships - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:08 pm on 4th July 2019.

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Photo of Viscount Younger of Leckie Viscount Younger of Leckie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip) 5:08 pm, 4th July 2019

Yes, that is absolutely right. I reassure the noble Lord and the House that the levy funds have not run out, although they are now being spent at a higher rate. I also reassure the House that this is certainly being looked at in the context of the spending review. I can give no guarantees whatever but an eye is being kept on it, given the importance of the apprenticeship programme.

The noble Lords, Lord Layard and Lord Aberdare, who deserve answers to all the questions they raised on Tuesday, asked whether the Government would consider broadening the levy so that it funded not only apprenticeships. The levy was introduced to support the apprenticeships that we expect employers to generate, and it is important that we maintain our focus on funding high-quality training.

The noble Lords, Lord Young and Lord Fox, said that there seemed to be no transparency in the levy review and that it was perhaps rather secretive—a point also made by others. The levy review is not a formal published consultation, but the evidence that we garner from employers will help the Government to understand the issues facing employers and build our evidence base as we make decisions on the spending review.

I conclude by saying that the most recent OBR analysis suggests that the picture for productivity growth, which has been an important theme today, is increasingly positive, and apprenticeships will have a vital role to play as this trend continues. There will still be challenges along the way, but we are determined to continue our work with employers, respond to their concerns and build a programme ready for the challenges ahead.