Apprenticeshift: Ushering in a new era for skills

04 February 2016 -


The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement paved the way for a revolution in the way managers are trained

Petra Wilton

At the end of November, chancellor George Osborne set out his economic plan for the next five years. He said his job was to “rebuild” the country so that this would be an “economic recovery for all, felt in all parts of our nation”.

Osborne admitted that the recent economic news had not been good but, looking to the future, he said the economy is predicted to grow by at least 2.3% in every year of this Parliament, putting the UK on track to be the “fastest-growing advanced economy in the world by 2020”.

This optimism contrasts sharply with CMI’s annual Future Forecast report, where members surveyed at the end of November reported the lowest levels of business optimism since 2012, and the first year-on-year fall in confidence since the forecast began in 2010. A third of those polled (37%) expect to see a reduction in headcount in 2016, on top of the 46% that reported redundancies in 2015.

However, in defiance of those who said the government might have to rein in its plans, the chancellor said that the predicted improvement in the nation’s finances would allow him to make faster progress towards eliminating the deficit and paying down debt, to spend £12bn more on capital investments in infrastructure and to cut less in the early years.

To a rapturous reception from his backbenchers, he announced planned cuts to tax credits would be scrapped and investment in housing, health, infrastructure, defence and entrepreneurialism prioritised.

A striking announcement was the new apprenticeship levy. After much speculation, Osborne announced it would be set at 0.5% of an employer’s wage bill. He also announced that this levy would be offset by a £15,000 allowance, meaning that all businesses with a wage bill of under £3m will not have to pay the levy.

Osborne said the levy would raise £3bn by 2020, funding three million apprenticeships by the end of the decade.

He said: “It’s a huge reform to raise the skills of the nation and address one of the enduring weaknesses of the British economy.”

The chancellor also announced an increase in funding for each apprentice, and said in the spending review that business secretary Sajid Javid would be creating a new business-led body to set accepted standards for apprenticeships.

Although the levy received a lukewarm reaction from the likes of the Confederation of British Industry and the Federation of Small Businesses, CMI welcomes this renewed employer-led approach.

Take the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship.

It’s been developed by employers for employers. Delivered by universities and business schools, it ensures apprentices receive the best of all worlds: a business degree, professional chartered status and on-the-job training.

For more information on the new Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship, including details of the business schools ready to deliver the programme, visit

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