Scotland’s apprenticeship levy spending must focus on construction, says FMB

The Federation of Master Builder (FMB) has called on the Scottish Government to recognise the construction industry as a priority sector when allocating apprenticeship levy funding.

Employability minister Jamie Hepburn has confirmed Scotland’s share of funding from the UK Government’s levy will support skills, training and employment in the region.

As well as delivering 30,000 modern apprenticeships starts per year by 2020, the levy - which will be introduced in April – will be used to support the creation of a new £10 million Workforce Development Fund which will help employers work in partnership with colleges to up-skill and re-skill their existing workforce and address skills gaps.

“Investing in 30,000 Modern Apprenticeships per year by 2020 and support for the new £10 million Fund will help us develop a distinctly Scottish approach to the way we respond to the apprenticeship levy,” said Hepburn.

And with less than four months until the levy is due to be collected from firms with a wage bill of more than £3 million, Gordon Nelson, director of FMB Scotland, is urging the Scottish Government to ensure that construction is given priority access to the fund.

"The construction industry needs to be given the same status as other sectors named as being particularly important including digital, care and early years,” he said.

"By failing to prioritise construction as a key skills sector, the Scottish Government is in danger of putting the cart before horse.

"For every £1 invested in construction, £2.84 is generated in the wider economy and we therefore urge the Scottish Government to give construction the priority status it demands as ministers continue to develop their skills strategy.”

Hepburn has promised to use the apprenticeship levy to give Scottish workplaces more options and flexibility, with the funding used to increase the number of graduate level and foundation apprenticeships in 2017-18, continue the implementation of the Youth Employment Strategy as well as developing partnerships between employers and local authorities to tackle unemployment and under-representation in the labour market.

“We have responded to the needs of employers by announcing an approach that is much broader than is currently proposed in England, and that will support skills, training and employment,” said Hepburn.

“While we will boost modern apprenticeships we will also address skills gaps and the training needs of existing employees where a full apprenticeship might not be appropriate.”

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