Consultation response Apprenticeships Levy: Employer owned apprenticeships training

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1 Consultation response Apprenticeships Levy: Employer owned apprenticeships training 1. Summary of recommendations In August 2015 the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills published the consultation document Apprenticeships levy: Employer owned apprenticeships training. In response Young Women s Trust makes the following recommendations: National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) should consult young people and apprentices about quality training and other aspects of the delivery of apprenticeships. Young Women s Trust would be delighted to convene and administer a youth apprenticeship advisory panel, with an equal gender split, in partnership with other youth organisations. The Specifications of Apprenticeship Standards for England (SASE) should be better enforced so that the number of guided learning hours required are received by all apprentices. Employers should develop a diversity policy for their apprenticeship scheme, monitor the protected characteristics of their apprenticeship intake and work with careers services, schools and others to attract a diverse workforce. Employers who want to draw top-up funding for new apprentices, over and above their own contributions, must commit to keeping the same number of their existing apprentices in permanent, full-time positions. Employers should be able to use their levy funds to top up pay and subsidise travel costs for apprentices. 2. Introduction Young Women s Trust have read with interest the consultation document Apprenticeships levy: Employer owned apprenticeships training. We welcome what information it provides about the new levy on large employers, and are pleased to set out our response below. Young Women s Trust is a small, dynamic charity that aims to improve lifelong opportunities for young women aged by addressing the poverty, inequality and discrimination that many of them face. We have a proud history, having been founded over 150 years ago as YWCA England & Wales. We are particularly concerned about young women who have few or no qualifications; are unemployed or in precarious or insecure employment; and are on very low or no pay. Our vision is of a society which respects and listens to young women, actively encourages their self-confidence and where they have the opportunity to be financially independent and 1

2 participate fully. We aim to demonstrate the reality of young women s lives, gathering their views and voices to promote good practice and good policy. Throughout Young Women s Trust are working with government, employers and training providers to make a wider range of apprenticeships inclusive and valuable for young women. The questions in the consultation document are aimed at employers and training and providers. For that reason Young Women s Trust are not responding directly to the set questions of the consultation, but discuss training quality, the use of top-up funds, and alternatives for spending the levy funding. We have therefore used this consultation as an opportunity to consider how the implementation of the levy and the proceeds it generates could best support high-quality, inclusive apprenticeship provision to the mutual benefit of employers, apprentices and government. We have consulted the young women we work with to ensure that the proposals put forward in our response reflect the challenges they perceive in apprenticeships. 3. Improving training quality for young women The government intends employers to spend the new levy on training and assessment of apprentices. Young Women s Trust is cognisant of the long running debate about what constitutes good quality in an apprenticeship and how that is achieved. We agree that as experts in their sectors employers are best placed to direct training curriculum and assessment criteria that ensure apprentices end up qualified with valuable skills for their chosen profession. Nonetheless, apprentices themselves have an important perspective to add if the government wants them to complete qualifications and contribute to a skilled workforce. Based on our work with young women who have done, or want to do apprenticeships, Young Women s Trust are happy to recommend some guidance for spending which will improve the quality of training for young women undertaking apprenticeships. Young Women s Trust research has found that quantity of training is a key concern for young women doing apprenticeships. Young women are more likely than young men to miss out on training. Polling conducted by ComRes for Young Women s Trust found that: 7% of young women aged who had completed or were doing apprenticeships, said they received no training at work, compared with 4% of men. 23% women received no training outside of work, compared with 12% of men. Training was also one of the themes to emerge from focus groups YWT held with 37 young women aged in June Our polling showed that young women were attracted to apprenticeships because of the opportunity to receive training whilst earning (52%) and to gain practical skills (41%). Despite this young women have repeatedly affirmed in focus groups that training especially that offered by employers was poor quality and offered little in the way of development. In general it was felt by the groups that training provided by colleges was more useful. 2

3 Young Women s Trust understands that some of these gendered discrepancies in training quality are rooted in the tendency of particular sectors to more readily recruit women or men. Young women s Trust s research has shown that, in particular: 61% of female apprentices work in just 5 sectors, whilst the same proportion of men work in more than 10 sectors. 1 Female apprentices are much more likely to be found in typically feminine occupations. In % of early years (childcare) apprentices were women, compared to 3% of engineering apprentices. 2 The IPPR suggest that traditionally masculine areas may receive better quality training. 3 These sectors also lead to better employment and further education prospects. 4 Combined with the polling outlined above, which shows women reporting more limited access to good quality training as part of apprenticeships, this seems to suggest that some sectors perform less well in training apprentices. These findings are particularly concerning as the rate of apprenticeship pay, at less than the minimum wage, is usually justified by the offer of training. Where this is lacking or of poor quality, apprenticeships become merely a source of cheap labour with few benefits for the apprentice. A lack of training will also restrict the benefit of apprenticeships to the wider economy. It is only by developing the skills of young people that apprenticeships can support the productivity gains that will help to plug the productivity gap that is of concern more generally. Based on this research, Young Women s Trust have three recommendations to make to government and employers to tackle inequality in training: a) The Specifications of Apprenticeship Standards for England (SASE) need to be better enforced so that the number of guided learning hours required are received by all apprentices. For instance, in completing the annual evaluation survey of apprenticeships commissioned by BIS, learners should be able to name their employer in confidence so that the ones who do not comply with the standards can be identified and inspected. b) There are other steps that the National Apprenticeship Service could take to improve the quality of training for young women and young women are the best people to advise on what those steps might be. In line with common client and beneficiary engagement practices, we would like to see NAS directly consult with young people and current apprentices about quality training and other aspects of the delivery of apprenticeships. BIS already have several advisory bodies comprising employers and training providers. They also commission an annual evaluation of apprenticeships from the point of view of apprentices and employers. YWT would be pleased to convene and administer an advisory group of young people and apprentices, with an equal gender split, in partnership with 1 Young Women s Trust (2015) Scarred for life? 2 Fuller and Unwin (2013), Gender Segregation, Apprenticeship, and the Raising of the Participation Age in England: are Young Women at a Disadvantage? Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies. 3 Raikes, L. (2015), Learner Drivers, IPPR. 4 Gardiner and Wilson (2012) Hidden talents: Skills mismatch analysis, Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion: 12; Fuller & Unwin 2013: 17. 3

4 other youth organisations. The group s advice would complement employers and training providers about how to improve apprenticeships and ensure they work equally well for men and women. c) The issue of recruitment of women into particular sectors, and men into others, is one that has its roots in long-held assumptions about what constitutes appropriate work for each gender. While we appreciate this is a societal problem, Young Women s Trust would like to see employers play a part in tackling it by using the levy funds to develop a diversity policy for their apprenticeship scheme, monitor the protected characteristics of their apprenticeship intake and work with careers services, schools and others to attract a diverse workforce. 4. Standards for spending top-up funding BIS are proposing that employers should be able to get access to other employers unused funding through top-ups to their levy accounts. However Young Women s Trust are concerned that without some checks, this may have negative consequences. The use-it-or-lose-it levy pot might encourage employers to develop more apprenticeships so they do not lose the money. But Young Women s Trust fear that it could incentivise less scrupulous employers to access money for a large number of apprentices, use them as cheap labour, and then replace them with new fodder apprentices once their apprenticeship comes to an end. Women who participated in our focus groups discussed how apprenticeships opened doors to employment. However, many felt misled because they had believed there was a stronger likelihood of getting a job on completion of their training. Our polling found that young women were twice as likely as young men to be out of work once they completed their apprenticeship. With this in mind, accessing top-up funding from other employers levy pots should be conditional on creating new jobs. Employers who want to draw on top-up funding for new apprentices must commit to appointing the same number of their existing apprentices in permanent, full-time positions within their organisation or a partner business. This would have the added benefit of creating jobs and improving the reputation of apprenticeships as a route to employment. 5. Spending the apprenticeship levy At the moment, the apprenticeship levy is expected to be directed towards training and assessment, but BIS have also asked whether the levy money should be used to fund other aspects of apprenticeships. Young Women s Trust hosts an advisory group of young women who have completed or are undertaking an apprenticeship. We talked to them about a number ways employers could use the levy money aside from training and assessment. Their chosen solutions relate to one particular barrier that Young Women s Trust research has identified for young women participating in apprenticeships: the difficulty of living on the apprenticeship wage. The young women, employer groups and charities who gave evidence to our Scarred for life? inquiry told Young Women s Trust that the apprenticeship wage deterred women without parental support from applying. Our focus groups with young women demonstrated that although they understood the logic of earning less before being qualified, apprenticeship pay is too low for them to support themselves. 4

5 The advisory group were strongest, although split, in their interest in topping up apprenticeship pay, and subsidising travel costs as a way of meeting this gap between wages and the cost of living. Better pay using the levy to top-up the apprenticeship wage. If you're working full time you should be earning enough to live off, regardless of being an apprentice. The work an apprentice does is no less valuable. This is a must! And the sooner all employers start paying the living wage the better, we aspire more for ourselves (not in a materialistic way) but as in wanting to have our own house one day.. not to mention all the other expenses. Subsidising travel costs travel is expensive and young women might need to travel to find a relevant apprenticeship. my preferred option is travel costs because being where I am from it is pretty much impossible to find an apprenticeship relevant to me. Travel costs would be my preferred option. I wanted to move to London but the extreme travel costs there deterred me very quickly as I know it would be unsustainable on an apprentice's wage. I think this could make a huge difference to apprentices and would certainly have helped me as I was paying 4 a day, even in Sheffield. If you are an apprentice living in London you are entitled to 30% discount on travel costs, providing you buy a monthly or weekly travel card. But the problem is if you don t live in London you are exempt from this discount. Whilst on my apprenticeship quite a few of the apprentices where from Essex, and one apprentice in particular said nearly a quarter of his wages went on travel. The group also discussed other options such as childcare vouchers for young mums, and extra basic skills training for those who have low or no qualifications. Young Women s Trust is happy to facilitate meetings between young women and BIS in order to develop these ideas further. For further information please contact: Emma Mckay Interim Senior Policy Officer

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