Apprenticeships are for everyone, not just an ‘elite’

From Sir John Armitt, Berkeley Group Sir, I was surprised to read the lack of access to subsidised MBA training for employers described as a “tragedy” by Simon Littlewood, a partner at Grant Thornton (“Caps on fees curbs use of apprentice levy for MBAs”, December 20). While I accept the concept that the apprenticeship system […]

From Sir John Armitt, Berkeley Group

Sir, I was surprised to read the lack of access to subsidised MBA training for employers described as a “tragedy” by Simon Littlewood, a partner at Grant Thornton (“Caps on fees curbs use of apprentice levy for MBAs”, December 20).

While I accept the concept that the apprenticeship system is employer-led and allows businesses to offer the types of apprenticeships that they believe best meet their needs, it is not and should never be a vehicle purely for elite training. We have a known problem with social mobility in this country as it is, and the apprenticeship system provides a vital leg-up for many young people, launching them into careers that would otherwise have been inaccessible to them.

Equally, there are people throughout their working life who could benefit from the retraining and reskilling that apprenticeships offer across a range of occupational areas that would have a huge impact on employers’ productivity. As outlined in your report, the levy was introduced as a way of tackling poor productivity in the UK, and these problems need to be addressed at every level and right across a company to effect real change.

Putting a cap on spend in a particular area is also nothing new. Individual apprenticeships are already capped and I am glad to see the UK government using a similar approach specifically for MBA training. Fundamentally, training needs to benefit the many, not the few, and smart businesses will see the levy as an opportunity to develop their entire workforce.

The construction industry, where I spent a large part of my career, is a case in point as the current skills challenges there range from low numbers entering the workforce, low productivity, and potential restrictions on worker availability as a result of Brexit — none of which will be solved purely by investment in MBAs. The real “tragedy” would be if employers don’t recognise the value and investment they need to make into training for all.

Sir John Armitt
London SW1, UK
Chairman, City & Guilds Group; Deputy Chairman, Berkeley Group

 

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