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Introduce a national retraining scheme

Last updated: 05:30pm 9 January 2019

Alongside this, we will help workers to stay in secure jobs as the economy changes by introducing a national retraining scheme. Under the scheme, the costs of training will be met by the government, with companies able to gain access to the Apprenticeship Levy to support wage costs during the training period.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.53

Our verdict

This policy has two sides to it. The first is the introduction of a national retraining scheme, and the second is how it will be funded.

The national retraining scheme aims to provide adults with access to lifelong learning, as well as improving digital and construction skills. This is essential as the nature of jobs and skills required to do them are changing.

The Apprenticeship Levy is a charge on UK employers to fund new apprenticeships in all industries. It requires businesses who pay £3 million or more to their employees in wages to dedicate 0.5% of their payroll into a training fund.

Some progress has been made. On top of the initial budget of £64 million for investment in digital and construction training, in October 2018 the Chancellor pledged £100 million:

“for the first phase of the National Retraining Scheme, announced in the last Budget, which will be rolled out next year”.

The government has also committed to establishing the National Institute of Coding by pledging £20 million to address the UK’s digital skills shortage. The government’s £20 million investment will be matched by another £20 million from industry.

The Apprenticeship Levy, introduced April 2017 (before this government’s term), has had some criticism. The idea is that businesses can draw on this to fund their own apprenticeships. However, an Open University report in April 2018 found that of £1.39 billion paid into the levy by English businesses, only £108 million has been withdrawn. So there is scant evidence of it being used to “support wage costs during the training period”.

For now, given that we see movement towards the implementation of the national retraining scheme, this policy is ‘in progress’. To be marked ‘done’ we’ll be looking for the scheme to be fully established and for clear evidence that all the costs of training are being met by the government.

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