As long-time advocates of the benefits that work-based training and education can offer - for individuals, businesses and the wider economy - IWFM has consulted with stakeholders across the workplace and facilities management profession on the development of an apprenticeship system that can deliver the skills and knowledge our industry needs now and in the future.
Like many other sectors, our profession is experiencing a growing skills gap and the Government’s proposed post-Brexit immigration policy looks set to further reduce the availability of suitably skilled labour.
An overhaul of apprenticeships in 2013 and the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in 2017 were major Government initiatives aimed at putting the needs of employers at the centre of the apprenticeship system and creating three million new apprenticeships by 2020. However, with a 26% drop in the number of apprenticeships starts in 2017-18 compared to pre-levy levels, these changes are not providing what employers need to sustain and grow their businesses and the Government appears to have now dropped its three million target.
A report from the National Audit Office published this week to coincide with National Apprenticeship Week concluded that “Government has some way to go to demonstrate that the programme is value for money or is boosting economic productivity.” Issues highlighted in the report include; slow and confusing processes, the lack of flexibility on what training can be funded by the levy and even the long-term financial stability of the apprenticeship programme.
The Government itself has recognised that the apprenticeship levy is not delivering on its original aims and last year announced a review on the levy to be carried out in 2019. Once the timing and scope of this review are announced, we will set our key objectives and the specific outcomes which we believe will be of particular importance and benefit to our members.
As part of our work and in preparation for the levy review, IWFM CEO Linda Hausmanis has joined a new Construction Industry Council Task and Finish Group set up to identify improvements that need to be made to the apprenticeship system from the built environment sector’s perspective. Taking views from industry employers, professional bodies and relevant training providers, the group will take its recommendations forward to policy-makers.
Commenting on her role with the group, Hausmanis said: “We have always been passionate about professional development, which is why we have worked tirelessly with employers to develop a range of FM apprenticeships across the skills spectrum needed by those employers. For some time now we have been suggesting a series of improvements to the current apprenticeship programme to ensure it can meet its objectives of delivering quality training interventions which develop the skills employers need, helping individuals develop their careers and enabling social mobility, for example through degree apprenticeships. If the Government is serious about apprenticeships, it needs to start listening to stakeholders and allocate sufficient funding to the programme in a fair and transparent way.”