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UVAC Warns of Threat to Engineering Skills Gap


A new report by the University Vocational Awards Council (UVAC) has this week warned that drastic reform or the abolishment of the government’s Apprenticeship Levy scheme will have a hugely detrimental impact on the skills gap across the engineering sector.

Cuts to funding of higher and degree apprenticeships, that are so critical to training core sectors and occupations such as engineering to a senior level, will lead to a decline in skilled professionals.

The warnings come from UVAC, which is the voice for over 90 universities that deliver higher and degree apprenticeships and has just produced a white paper setting out the future of the apprenticeship levy and what a future government should consider to maintain the volume and quality of delivery of higher-level skills.

Dr. Mandy Crawford-Lee, chief executive for UVAC commented: “One major casualty of radical reform or abolishment of the current apprenticeship levy scheme will unfortunately be skilled professionals across the engineering sector, if funding to higher and degree level apprenticeships is compromised.

“The potential election of a new government in the summer, misconceptions around the amount of levy funds retained by the Treasury annually and increasing pressure from big business to scrap it completely has meant its future is uncertain.

“This uncertainty poses a threat to the delivery of level 6 and 7 apprenticeships which are so integral to recruiting and training skilled, senior level people working across both the private and public sector. Putting levy funding at risk to those people working in engineering would also hinder social mobility.”

The levy was first introduced in 2017 and is funded by a 0.5% compulsory contribution by employers with payroll costs of over £3m. It was met with some concerns especially from levy-paying organisations, regarded as another form of business taxation and has recently come under heavy scrutiny.

One possible reform UVAC has recommended in its new report is the ring fencing of public sector levy payments. This would ensure that employers, such as the NHS, would have far greater control over where it spends its payments, regardless of whether restrictions were introduced for employers in the private sector.

Other proposed reforms to the levy opposed by UVAC could include a graduate ban which would prevent funding being spent on young people and adults pursuing an engineering-based higher or degree apprenticeship.

Dr. Mandy Crawford-Lee, added: “Whether it’s reform of the current levy system or transitioning to Labour’s proposed Growth and Skills alternative, key consideration needs to be given to how apprenticeship funding is spent across the engineering sector to ensure it can attract, train and retain the best talent.”

The new report on the future of the Apprenticeship Levy will be freely available to view online from the 1st June when published on

Manufacturing & Engineering Magazine | The Home of Manufacturing Industry News

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