The largest trade union in the UK warns that the introduction of a levy could harm workers earning a living in the British labour market.
The training period of a new worker can determine success of their future work. Good processes will result in better qualified workers, and companies with better results. However, where effective training is not provided, the risk of weak, poorly paid apprenticeships will increase, that result in no benefits for either party.
Unite, a trade union group that consists of more than 1.4 million workers throughout the UK, has voiced concern ahead of the introduction of a levy that could lead to the creation of substandard apprenticeships. In accordance with a new regulation, as of 6 April 2017, all companies with a wage bill exceeding £3 million per year will be required to pay the levy, which is set at 0.5% of their employees’ salaries.
With this levy, the British government aims to achieve its target of creating three million apprenticeships.
In June 2015, the government set an objective of creating three million of these positions by 2020, giving them the same status as academic qualifications, with the purpose being to establish the UK as the fastest growing economy in the G7.
The levy has already been criticised by a group of politicians who argue that its implementation will not contribute to bridge knowledge and skills gaps among workers, which was the original objective of this training model.
The importance of having better trained workers has become increasingly urgent following the vote for Brexit, a fact that could hinder the arrival of skilled workers into the UK.
Unite’s concern is that increasing the number of training courses could lead to a decline in quality and become an employer’s strategy to reduce labour costs. For this reason, the trade union has called for high quality training courses that represent a genuine option for young workers and their families.
Unite’s concern increased when a well-known fast food chain advertised for apprentice sandwich maker positions that paid the national minimum wage of £3.40 per hour.
Gail Cartmail, from Unite, argued that the target of three million apprenticeships could not be achieved at any cost.
“If unscrupulous employers are subverting the apprenticeship system in any way then they need to be named and shamed. Apprenticeships need to be a gold standard providing skills for life and not degraded and used as a way of acquiring cheap labour”, he said.
Criticism of this levy began in October 2016, when several sectors stressed that the measure could reduce the quality of apprenticeships rather than encourage the creation of new quotas.
Opponents requested the measure be postponed until 2018, once the economic uncertainty generated by Brexit had passed.
Photos: Pixabay – (Translated by Sydney Sims)