Apprenticeships rap

The accountancy profession has been ‘called out’ over its questionable rebadging of numerous graduate schemes into single apprenticeship schemes in a new report from education think-tank EDSK.

The report ‘Runaway training – why the apprenticeship levy is broken and how to fix it’, claims that up to half of all apprenticeship courses in England could in fact be ‘fake’. The worry is that the levy is simply being spent on low-skill jobs or on relabelled existing schemes rather than real training.

Report author Tom Richmond says that the most costly higherlevel apprenticeship is the accountancy/taxation professional course at Level 7 (equivalent to a Master’s degree).

He highlights the fact that since 2017 some 8,278 accountancy/ taxation professional apprentices have been signed up. This compares with 861 registered nurse apprenticeship starts.

These courses have cost £174m of levy funding since 2017, to cover roles as diverse as financial accountants, management accountants, tax accountants, tax advisers, tax specialists, external auditors, internal auditors, financial analysts, management consultants, forensic accountants and business advisors.

Richmond said: “For a single apprenticeship to cover such a breadth of respected and well-paid jobs is questionable to say the least.”

He also claimed that for the apprenticeship levy to be used for university degrees that can already be funded through the student loan system is hugely wasteful. He pointed out that labelling these degrees as ‘apprenticeships’ is appealing to employers because they can draw down a large amount of levy funding for every ‘apprenticeship’ – up to £27,000, depending on the programme.