The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has criticised the government’s approach to the apprenticeships system, and has called for reforms to improve standards.
The BRC criticised what it called a criticised a rigid, restrictive system that makes it difficult for retailers to make use of the Apprenticeship Levy funds. The speed of approval for new apprenticeship standards also came under fire.
The organisation said that new apprenticeships starts decreased by 5% to 125,800 in the first quarter of 2018/19. In retail, the figure is much higher and new starts fell by 15% overall, with a 20% drop in level-two starts.
The BRC called apprenticeships a “vital” way for retailers to improve the skills and productivity of the workforce. Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: “The government’s current approach to apprenticeships is not working. Retailers continue to pay into an Apprenticeship Levy pot, yet the number of starts has been falling dramatically. Government should make good on their pledge to reform the Levy, allowing retailers to make better use of the system and increasing the investment they make in the UK’s 3 million retail workers.”