Following the announcement that the UK Government has agreed a funding deal with the devolved administrations, Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir and Economy Minister Simon Hamilton have publicly stated that the newly proposed Apprenticeship Levy will have no benefit to the NI Executive and have called for a public consultation on the matter.
The Apprenticeship Levy is being introduced from 6 April, 2017 and is payable by all employers operating in the UK with an annual pay bill over £3million. In England, the levy will fund increased and improved apprenticeship training but, as yet, there is no provision for the money to be spent in that way in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales, where skills are treated as a devolved matter.
Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir and Economy Minister Simon Hamilton highlighted the impact on the Executive’s Finances and on local employers as the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy would mean a net loss to Northern Ireland Executive’s budget after taking account of the impact of our public sector organisations also having to pay the levy.
Barry Neilson, Chief Executive CITB NI, has been already been asking the Northern Ireland Assembly to deliver clarity on the Apprenticeship Levy, which is being forced on a construction industry that already supports industry-wide training through a levy.
He said, “The industry needs answers. How will the Apprenticeship Levy affect contractors based in Northern Ireland but working in Great Britain? Will it be collected monthly? If so, how will contractors be able to properly plan for this? Will companies paying a levy to CITB NI have to pay, in effect, twice? I fully welcome the Ministers’ call for a short and focused consultation to gauge opinions of those impacted.”
Barry continued, “One of the most frustrating aspects of the Apprenticeship Levy is that it comes at a time when the construction industry is engaged with the Department for the Economy about an improved system for apprenticeships and training in Northern Ireland. We know improvements need to be made and this levy may have an impact upon this. We have a construction industry to be proud of in Northern Ireland but we need skills and forward planning to sustain it.”
For more information onn CITB NI, visit the website at www.citbni.org.uk