Concerns over apprenticeship levy

Comment by Bryan Buchan, Chief Executive.

Engineering companies throughout Scotland are expressing great concern about the impending apprenticeship levy that will come into effect early next year.

The main reason for their concern is the fact that the application of the scheme has been devolved to the Scottish Government, and while employers across England have been made aware by Westminster how they are going to be affected, Scottish employers are completely in the dark.

Starting on 6 April 2017, HMRC will collect a levy from companies throughout the UK with a wage bill above £3m.  This will be paid dependent on where the companies pay their tax.  Some Scottish companies will, therefore, be paying to Revenue Scotland and others to HMRC UK.

We are being inundated by requests from our member companies who want information on how this levy will be collected, when and how often it will be collected, as well as how they can claim their allowances back and how much they can claim.

The basis of this levy is that the UK Government have said that they want to create 3 million apprentices by 2020 across the UK.  In Scotland, I have received information from colleges and training organisations who already fear that there is going to be a significant downturn in the number of essential apprenticeships in key engineering disciplines in the coming year.

That flags up to employers a huge concern that we will once again be facing a deficit in skilled workers in Scotland within an industry where skills are paramount.

Questions have already been asked of the Employability and Training Department of the Scottish Government, but answers have not been received.

The word from politicians is that they cannot provide answers before the autumn statement, which means that it will be December before any clarity is provided, allowing at best four months to set up a system of delivery which already exists in England.