How will Brexit affect apprenticeships?
There's still a lot of question marks around how Brexit will affect the UK in general – let alone how it will affect apprenticeships.
When the shock vote to leave the EU was first announced in June 2016, there were concerns that Brexit could plunge the upcoming apprenticeship reforms into despair. Many even called for the apprenticeship levy to be postponed, but the Government pushed on, and we're now waiting to see how Brexit and the levy will interact.
It's early days, but Brexit is already starting to impact apprenticeships:
The Brexit result has brought about economic uncertainty for UK businesses large and small. We've seen a drop in the pound, slower GDP growth, expensive imports and cheaper exports – it's been a roller-coaster couple of months. The economic landscape seems to be settling down now, but no one knows what's round the corner. Both blue chips and SMEs are reluctant to invest in apprenticeship training in this time of uncertainty – but they shouldn't be worried!
Apprenticeships are a great way for employers to upskill their staff, fill their skills gap and grow their business. And if companies pay the levy, the cost of training is covered!
Despite calls for it to be axed, big businesses now have to contribute 0.5% of their annual wage bill towards the apprenticeship levy. This means they have allocated funds to spend on apprenticeship training and counteract any uncertainty brought about by Brexit.
Skilled EU nationals are already starting to show signs of leaving the UK, and companies may struggle to recruit skilled EU workers in the future. This means UK businesses may have to invest more in homegrown talent to combat growing skills shortages. In fact, 52% of British businesses said they would consider taking on apprentices to offset their staffing problems.
This view is shared by leading voices across the sector: 'It's crucial that businesses meet this challenge head-on and invest in the UK workforce by recruiting motivated apprentices to make up their skills shortfall that is widely expected after Britain leaves the EU.' - CCCG chief executive, Andy Wilson.
Although 52% of Britons voted to leave the EU, the votes cast by young people reflected a very different picture. 72% of 18-24 year olds voted remain, and only 19% actively voted to leave the EU – so Brexit was seen as a massive defeat for young people.
They're concerned about how Brexit will affect their employability and opportunity to work overseas. This is a very uncertain time for young people, so we need to help them see Brexit's not all doom and gloom.
Although leaving the EU has brought a haze of uncertainty across the UK, Brexit could be good for apprenticeships.
The Government has been criticised for enforcing the levy before the UK secures a trade deal, but maybe they should be praised for sticking to their guns. The levy presents a solution to the skills shortage left in the wake of EU workers – and it pays for it too. We need to encourage British businesses to invest in apprenticeships, and give young people the opportunity to profit from Brexit.
Whether you're a levy-paying employer or an SME, apprentices are good for business. Find out everything you need to know about hiring apprentices in our ultimate guide. We explain how apprenticeships work, how they're funded and how they'll benefit your business.