Taking a flexible approach

Richard Shaw

Richard Shaw welcomes moves that mean from April employers will be allowed to transfer up to 25% of their apprenticeship levy entitlement to organisations in their supply chain.

Shaw, who leads construction and consultancy group Mace’s project management operations in Yorkshire and the North East, sees the move as part of a more flexible approach needed to meet the skills challenges not just in his sector but across industry.

He says that the government’s apprenticeship reforms have been hampered by a feeling among businesses that they have brought with them a high level of bureaucracy.

Shaw said: “There has been a lot of lobbying of the government to increase the flexibility of the levy.

“That has now been listened to, as seen by the fact from April major employers will be allowed to use some of their levy with the supply chain.”

It is a move he that he sees as a “no brainer” adding that many smaller companies find it hard to tackle the issues of training and skills on their own.

In his Spring Statement, the Chancellor announced that reforms to the apprenticeship levy, announced in last year’s Budget, were to be brought forward a year and will now take place from April 1.

The rise in the amount of the levy that can be sent down the supply chain from 10 per cent to 25 per cent is aimed at increasing the number of people able to benefit from apprenticeship training.

The National Audit Office (NAO) has said that that government is “very unlikely to meet its target of three million apprenticeship starts by 2020”.

Shaw also believes that devolution would offer another opportunity when it comes to meeting Yorkshire’s skills challenges.

He said: “Devolving skills would given an opportunity to tailor training and development and align them to what businesses need in the region.”

And he added: “The local industrial strategies that we are seeing emerge are another good opportunity to focus on skills.”