NET CEO calls for Electrotechnical Apprenticeships to be exempt from funding changes

NET CEO Iain Macdonald has called on the Government to exempt the electrotechnical sector from the proposed changes to apprenticeships funding.

“The PAYE and the Apprenticeship Credit system proposed as alternatives to the approach we have now are simply impractical for businesses in our industry,” he said. “Because of our industry’s position in the construction supply chain electrotechnical firms are going to struggle to make monthly payments or put in the upfront contribution for an apprentice’s training required by the new system.”

Macdonald continued: “I believe that our industry should be exempt from the Government’s proposals to change the way employers pay for apprenticeships and the Government should find an alternative means of funding apprenticeships in our sector and other skilled industries. Changing the apprentice funding system is a big step to take, and one which needs to be done in a way that benefits all industries involved in apprentice training.”

The results of a survey of 650 electrotechnical employers commissioned by the ECA and supported by NET, JTL and the JIB showed that the industry shared the NET CEO’s views. Nearly 87 per cent of businesses surveyed felt the proposals would encourage fewer employers to train apprentices, with 90 per cent saying they were less likely to employ apprentices if they had to pay for the training through PAYE and 80 per cent less likely to recruit if they had to use the Apprenticeship Credit system.

“It’s clear the industry feels that these changes would be a regressive step, and one which could damage the sector in the long term,” Iain Macdonald said. “The method the Government is proposing won’t work for our industry or for any sector that is made up predominantly of SMEs and whose specialist training requirements involve a longer training period and necessitate a larger financial investment than other apprenticeships.”

He concluded: “One solution would be to keep the current funding system for apprenticeships where it has been successful, and develop an alternative approach for the industries where it hasn’t worked quite as well. This would allow industries who have trained apprentices successfully to carry on doing so and would support those who are newer to the process and need help establishing a successful apprenticeship system.”