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    Wholesalers demand to reform Apprenticeship Levy

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    Leading wholesalers, buying groups and trade bodies are intensifying their calls to reform the Apprenticeship Levy ahead of the Spring Budget.

    In an open letter issued to Robert Halfon, Minister for Skills, Apprenticeship and Higher Education, the industry has highlighted the systems flaws which currently prevent access to this levy.

    The letter is issued by Federation of wholesalers and distributors (FWD) and is backed by other trade bodies such as the British Soft Drink Association and the Provision Trade Federation. It has been signed by leading wholesalers and buying groups including Bidfood, Confex, Henderson Foodservice, Sysco GB and Unitas Wholesale.

    The letter states, “The Apprenticeship Levy holds the potential to foster future generations, support our industries and create a sustainable and resilient workforce. However, its efficacy hinges on its usability and flexibility”, states the FWD letter before outlining its key asks to government: : extending provisions to include travel, hardware, and financial support; extending the scope of the levy to include wider educational programmes; and allowing flexibility around on-the-job hour requirement.

    “Introducing these much-needed reforms to the Apprenticeship Levy would allow it to realise its intended impact, unlocking productivity for business and bolstering growth across our economy.”

    Previously, FWD CEO James Bielby said, “A key criticism has been the lack of flexibility in the system – with the Government failing to approve certain apprenticeship schemes proposed by employers and being unwilling to support flexible apprenticeships with short-term placements, and those that do not involve classroom learning. This event initiated a conversation between wholesalers and MPs on why the levy in its current form does not work for the wholesale sector.”

    “We are calling for a restructure of the apprenticeship levy into a Flexible Skills Fund for broader skills development; quicker and simpler processes to update standards, and a removal of the statutory six-hour per week off-the-job classroom training, which is not suitable for the wholesale sector.”

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