The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has called for more flexibility in the apprentice levy to ensure retailers can make better use of it, after new figures from the Department for Education showed the steepest decline in new apprenticeship starts since the levy was introduced.
Just 24,100 apprenticeship starts were reported in April 2018, which was down by two-thirds from the provisional pre-levy peak in April 2017 of more than 70,000.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson: “Today’s apprenticeship data, as published by the Department for Education, yet again demonstrates that the apprenticeship levy is unworkable in its current format.”
“The retail industry is undergoing a period of transformation and retailers are investing heavily in retraining their workforce for the digital economy, thereby improving industry productivity,” she added. “Policy-makers must address the apprenticeship issue to help support this and make the system more flexible to enable retailers to draw down levy funds to cover the cost of backfilling roles while apprentices are off the job.”