KFC among employers accused of abusing Apprenticeship Levy

KFC among employers accused of abusing Apprenticeship Levy

UK businesses are re-labelling many low-skilled jobs as apprenticeships, despite receiving subsidies for training.

A new report titled ‘The great training robbery’ by think thank Reform says many fast food giants, coffee shops and retailers are rebranding existing roles after the apprenticeship levy came into force.

The report found unscrupulous employers are taking advantage of this, with the intention of the levy being to deliver valuable training. "Some used this opportunity to generate high-quality standards, but others appear to be simply rebadging low-quality, low-skill and often low-wage roles as 'apprenticeships' instead,” the report read.

One example is KFC, who are advertising for apprentices in their hospitality team. The advert describes the apprenticeship as "a structured, learner and employer-focused development programme designed to create opportunities for lifelong knowledge, skills and behaviours".

However, it also includes tasks such as cooking, assembling and serving KFC products and contributing to cleaning. KFC defended the scheme, saying it existed prior to the levy and meets the key standards.

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The report also said that 40% of apprenticeship standards approved by the Government in the past six years do not meet the international and historical definition of such a scheme.

The Reform report states: “Such training courses do not meet the historical or international definition of an apprenticeship because they typically offer minimal training, represent low-wage jobs and do not constitute skilled occupations.”

Tom Richmond, Senior Research Fellow at Reform, believes the main issue with the levy is that it’s “too complicated for employers, focused on too many inappropriate forms of training and as a result is unlikely to deliver value for money.”

The levy requires organisations with a payroll of over £3million a year to pay 0.5% of their wages into an account held by HMRC. These contributions can then be used to fund organisations’ apprenticeship training, training which must comply with Government guidelines.

Firms who do bring on apprentices can pay lower than the standard minimum wage, a rate which ranges between £3.70 an hour for anyone in their first year of an apprenticeship to £7.38.

Gavin White, Managing Director at Autotech Recruit, said the news confirms that the term 'apprenticeship' has been taken advantage of, and signals a step backwards.

“Many of these 'apprenticeships' aren't meeting the minimum Government regulated standard of training that apprentices should be receiving. Due to the fact that there's such a huge range of apprenticeship courses available, it's surprising to see that some businesses are simply choosing to re-brand lower level jobs rather than adjusting their programmes and strategies and using funds more efficiently to allow for better training for apprentices, after all this is only going to benefit the business in the long run.”

On the next page, White offers his three top tips to making use out of the levy…

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