Hammond’s hopeful budget is just a woefully weak plan.

In recent times, we’ve been greedily feasting on an abundance of political news, good, bad and ugly. With Brexit, multiple scandals, and a whole lot of reshuffling going on – it’s safe to say there’s been enough stories pumping out of Westminster to keep us busy. But amidst the negotiations and scandal, business heads like myself have been patiently waiting for some real reforms and policy making…a void I hoped would be filled by the much anticipated Autumn Budget. Businessman Charlie Mullins OBE, writes in the FE News 

In the UK we have been suffering from an ever growing skills shortage, and with the Brexit burdening businesses, we’re faced with the likely prospect of losing access to migrant labour. But this so called National Retraining Scheme is only a shortcut to disaster.

Fact is, no handyman or semi-skilled construction worker, can learn the intricacies of the job without the formal training of an apprenticeship. These courses run over a few years for a reason and at the end of it, the apprentices are equipped with all the tools to get the job done. This Scheme is nothing but a way to breathe more cowboys into the industry.

Honestly, it’s insulting to think that the Chancellor of the Exchequer believes that these rapid retraining courses will be enough to give people the, skills, knowledge and experience to build reliable houses with first class construction, carpentry, plumbing and electrics.

On the topic of apprenticeships, I was however pleased to see Hammonds promise (albeit a lukewarm one) to monitor the current flexibility of spending attached to the Apprenticeships Levy. In principle, I’ve always agreed that the Levy is great, as it puts that extra pressure on businesses who lag behind on the apprentice recruitment front. This in turn gets more young people into work than ever. But the principles of the Levy and the way it has been implemented is flawed.

If we look at the figures, the number of apprentices starting in May, June and July were down by 61% (figures published by the DfE) compared with the same time last year – which to me makes the pledge of 3million new apprentices by 2020 a distant dream. Frankly, it’s no surprise that this drop in figures coincided directly with the Apprenticeship Levy rule change. Until the government make changes to the system that will reinforce incentives for employers to take on apprentices, the skills gap and the productivity levels in this country will continue to suffer.

Read the full article Hammond’s Hopeful Budget Is Just a Woefully Weak Plan.

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  1. Proper apprenticeships should primarily be the responsibility of business not government albeit the latter can play an important role. Business ended what used to be a very good apprenticeship system in Britain when it chose to go for quick profits by importing foreign cheap labour and deskilling the British workforce. Liberation from the EU nightmare means the welcome return of business having to train people for these skilled jobs. So business can stop whining and get on with it.

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