Comment on the apprenticeship levy

Kirstie Donnelly MBE, Managing Director at City & Guilds Group, comments on the apprenticeship levy

29 January 2018

Dear Sir / Madam,

Six months into the new system, the drop in new apprentices is rightly a concern (Fears apprenticeship levy is failing as numbers fall, 26 January 2018). Many employers are still confused about the new levy and its benefits, but a longer term view is needed before we can really assess the challenges and understand the impact of this. Inevitably the system will need time to bed-in and establish itself, before it becomes effective.

Importantly, we cannot afford to ignore just how essential apprenticeships are to the future of the UK economy, and for society as a whole. Far from just being a tax, the levy presents a valuable opportunity for organisations to re-think the way they fund training and development for employees at every level of their business. 

However, the Government needs to listen to employers and be brave enough to make changes to its policy – and soon. There needs to be a greater focus on how the levy could be used more broadly to deliver a better variety of quality training. There should also be more attention on how employers can use their levy to access to new talent, train people already in their businesses and, of course, better engage SMEs - many of whom remain unaware that they are able to access levy funds.

My last plea to Government is support to drive a sustainable infrastructure and culture that creates a resilient apprenticeship environment. 

Now more than ever, we need a workforce that is fit-for-purpose. Without greater clarity on the levy, and further support from the Government and the skills sector, it will be difficult for employers to grip the opportunity it presents. Unless they do we will risk the future success of the UK, and we will let down the aspirations and hopes of so many individuals who have got so much to offer. 

Yours faithfully,


Kirstie Donnelly MBE, Group Managing Director - City & Guilds & ILM