FSB: Fund skills academies with apprenticeship levy

Andy Willox
Andy Willox

Funds coming to Scotland from the UK government’s apprenticeship levy should be spent on vocational skills academies, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

The small business campaign group says this move would boost industry by addressing skills shortages and giving fresh options to people for whom long college or university courses aren’t suitable.

In 2017, the Scottish Government will receive a proportion of the approximately £3 billion due to be raised annually by the UK-government’s apprenticeship levy – likely to be at least £100 million.

In a submission made to SNP ministers today, the FSB urges them to use some of this funding to honour their manifesto commitment to look at expanding skills academies.

Andy Willoxthe FSB’s Scottish policy convenor, said: “Skills shortages still present a real problem for smaller firms who can find key specialist staff poached by larger competitors. The academy model offers new options for both employers and those looking to develop vocational skills.

“These institutions would reach agreement with employers about the skills they need and, in turn, guarantee opportunities for a proportion of the intake.”

In October 2015, Deputy First Minister John Swinney launched CodeClan – Scotland’s first skills academy which offers intensive 16-week software development courses, accredited by the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

In the response to Ministers, FSB suggests that CodeClan could accelerate their expansion plans and the industry-led model could be applied to other industries like energy, brewing, data-science or specialist engineering.

Andy added: “With a little bit of imagination and co-operation between industry and education, I’ve no doubt we can make the vocational academy model work on a larger scale.”

Tags: FSB

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