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Industry faces an apprentice crisis

The MCIA is warning that the motorcycle industry could soon face an apprenticeship crisis that would see the cost of labour spiralling. The warning coincides with the news that the recently introduced Trailblazer apprenticeship scheme has made no impact on the supply of skilled technicians in the motorcycle industry, which remains “a real problem”, according to the National Motorcycle Dealers Association (NMDA).

Of the situation nationally, the National Audit Office, the public spending watchdog, says the number of people starting a training programme has fallen “substantially” under the government’s Trailblazer scheme and warns that it is “very unlikely” that the target of three million new apprentice-starts by 2020 will be hit.

The Trailblazer apprenticeship initiative replaced the Framework scheme in 2017 and industries and sectors were then required to draw up a Trailblazer “standard” for training within the parameters of the new scheme. The motorcycle industry Trailblazer scheme – drawn up by the NMDA and a selection of its members – was launched, after much government delay, in late 2018.

The government’s switch of apprenticeship system has “raised a number of challenges”, according to the MCIA, which points out that even prior to Trailblazer the number of apprentices, specifically technicians, over the past 10 years has been falling year on year. 

“There are various reasons for this,” said MCIA communications manager Nick Broomhall, “but the main factors are a declining market, resulting in fewer dealers; an unattractive profession for young people, a problem which is not unique to our industry; and other labour options for dealers, for example  migrant workers etc.

“Also, the amount of government funding available is £11,000 per training course, a sum that was negotiated up from £9000 by the NMDA, which is £7000 less than the funding for an automotive technician course, even though both courses contain a broadly similar level of training.

“If industry wants to increase the number of apprentices, it must find a way of bridging this funding gap, notwithstanding the pressures at play.

 “With some kind of Brexit looming and the resulting possibility of fewer EU technicians working in UK dealers, industry could be facing an urgent challenge over the next few years in bringing fresh blood into the vital area of aftersales, or could face the cost of labour spiralling.

“The MCIA is currently liaising with manufacturers and the NMDA to see what can be done to create demand and look at ways of bridging the funding gap.”

Stephen Latham, head of the NMDA, said Trailblazer take-up had been “very, very disappointing”, attributing the failure to “bureaucracy and complications of the new system” which were keeping employers from taking on apprentices.”

Full story in the May issue of BDN.

 

 

 

 

 

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THE MECHANICS OF TRAILBLAZER

 

The number of people starting a training programme has fallen “substantially” under the government’s new apprenticeship scheme, according to the National Audit Office (NAO).

The public spending watchdog said the government was “very unlikely” to hit a 2020 target of three million new starts.

The government had some way to go before it showed the scheme was value for money, the NAO added.

The government, however, says apprenticeship numbers are now rising year on year, and its view is supported by the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI). The IMI welcomed the news that apprenticeship starts had started to grow for the first time since the government introduced the Apprenticeship Levy.

Steve Nash, CEO of the IMI said: “The latest figures on apprenticeship starts are welcome news, albeit the numbers are still significantly lower than those achieved before the Apprenticeship Levy was introduced.”

Apprenticeship and Skills Minister Anne Milton said the government would continue to work with employers to help them develop their apprenticeship programmes.

 

ON THE LEVY

The government radically changed the apprenticeship system in 2017, introducing a levy or tax on large employers which they can then claim back to fund training.

Smaller firms have had to pay more towards training and the suppliers of courses changed.

But rather than boosting the number of apprenticeships, the total has fallen by more than one-quarter, with many small firms giving up on schemes and larger ones failing to even claim back the money they paid in, leaving £2bn unspent.

Many larger firms regard the apprenticeship levy as little more than an extra tax on their wage bill, while many smaller companies are reluctant to have their apprentices go to college one day a week.

As a result, just when the government is trying to boost the number of people taking apprenticeships and with many students only too keen to be paid to study, rather than running up student debts at college or university, the number starting apprenticeships has slumped.

Just before the new scheme was introduced there were 509,400 starts a year; last year there were just 375,800, a fall of 26%.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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