Augar targets degree apprenticeships to pay for FE

May 31, 2019 | Sector & policy

ISE CEO Stephen Isherwood considers the recommendations for the Government’s review of Post-18 Education and Funding in England published today (30 May) and led by Philip Augar.

I’m beginning to wonder if employers were told two big porkies about the apprenticeship levy.

One, levy payers will get out more than they put in, and two, the apprentice system is employer led. As employers digest the Augar report many will increasingly question the principals they thought underpinned the levy.

Augar recommends that those with a degree cannot access levy funds. If this becomes policy, many high-quality programmes that employers have created to train their graduates will cease to be funded from their levy payments. This is bad news for two reasons.

Firstly, a significant rule change this early in the levy’s lifetime will cause disruption to employer’s business plans and reduce trust in the system. Why build a programme that takes years to create and deliver when the cost models that underpin it can be radically altered?

Secondly, if this policy shift leads to a reduction in the number of level six and above apprentice programmes, any gains in esteem for apprenticeships could be undermined and we risk creating a two-tier system. Apprenticeships will be for ‘other kids, not mine’.

For too long the 50% of young people who never go anywhere near a university education has been neglected. Augar is right to rebalance the FE and HE provision, but don’t alienate the employers who create jobs and opportunities in the process.


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