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Chaos, confusion and catastrophe – by Philip King FCICM

30 November 2017

48,000 people started an apprenticeship in the three months to July 2017. That compares with 117,800 in the same period in 2016. Government has said it would be wrong to judge the new apprenticeship scheme on the basis of a few months’ worth of data. I heard a minister being interviewed and saying that a downward ‘blip’ was expected and he was confident the numbers would bounce back.

Since when was a 59% fall in anything a ‘blip’? Catastrophic would seem a more appropriate word to me and I can’t say I’m surprised. I talk to numerous employers, large (who pay the apprenticeship levy), and those employing more than 50 people who aren’t charged the levy but must now contribute 10% of the cost of training and cover the one day a week of training that must be carried out away from the workplace.

The one common theme from them all is one of confusion, and that confusion is exacerbated by government that offers less than adequate clarity or consistency in what is, and isn’t, allowed and what is, or isn’t required.  To say the rules are complex and rapidly changing would be an under-statement.

The CICM has five specifically designed apprenticeship courses over three levels for those wishing to learn the credit profession. We are proud of the work we are doing in this area in providing more opportunities for careers in credit management to be chosen and developed.

Some employers are enlightened and see the real benefit of maximising the opportunities available but others are simply confused and missing out. More importantly, individuals are missing out on the chance to get on to a career ladder that offers so much. We are making good progress but it could be so much better and our achievements are, sadly, in spite of the obstacles put in the way.

If government is serious about reaching its target of 3 million apprenticeships by 2020, it needs to do more than bury its head in the sand to avoid the blip as it passes. It needs to listen to the concerns being widely expressed and reconsider its approach.

And now I must start reading the Industrial Strategy published this week; it’s only 255 pages!

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