The Association of Professional Staffing Companies is calling for a broadening of the scope of the Apprenticeship Levy, which could very well benefit the self-employed.
In a letter to Gillian Keegan, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Skills and Apprenticeships, the trade association’s proposals would allow not only a more efficient use of unused levy pots, but also the opportunity for the professional recruitment sector to upskill and retrain large elements of the self-employed labour market which has traditionally been unable to make use of the levy.
Tania Bowers, Legal Counsel and Head of Public Policy at the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) said, “Under the current rules, many of our largest recruitment firm members and umbrella company affiliate members have enormous levy pots which they are unable to spend on upskilling their own, relatively limited workforces.”
Bowers added, “This is because although they don’t have a large staff of their own, they maintain large payrolls of self-employed workers – or in the case of umbrella companies, employed contractors who are placed with clients operating in the STEM and professional sectors. Enabling these organisations to transfer funding pots to other businesses will enable the delivery of quality apprenticeship and training opportunities.
“By nature of their duration, apprenticeship schemes are learning enablers for those in permanent employment, not contingent workers.
“However, the professional flexible workforce is vital to the UK economy and reducing the length of apprenticeships, making the training more flexible and increasing online learning would certainly bring about a positive economic impact. A number of our members are already transferring their unused levy pots for the benefit of others but this has mainly been focused on ‘blue collar’ apprenticeships. However, the future success of our economy depends on the development of high-level STEM skills and so employers should be incentivised to create apprenticeships in these areas.”
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