Posted : 6 months ago by Mandy Crawford-Lee

Senior Leader Apprenticeship: Crisis averted…for now

Senior Leader Apprenticeship: Crisis averted…for now

The Government’s Autumn Statement – Key Points for UVAC Members Concerning Apprenticeship 

None of the rumoured restrictions on the use of Higher and Degree Apprenticeships and particularly the Senior Leader standard were included in the Autumn Statement.  FE Week has, however, reported that discussions continue.  UVAC will continue to make and emphasise appropriate arguments as outlined in our earlier post and monitor the situation.

The need to raise productivity, particularly in the public sector, was a central theme of the Autumn Statement. The arguments UVAC made and helped to co-ordinate, in advance of the Autumn Statement, chime with the issues raised by the Chancellor.  The Government has also celebrated the substantial growth in Higher Apprenticeships.

The Chancellor was clear “No economy can prosper without investing in its people”.

Interestingly, in PMQs before the Autumn Statement, the Prime Minister stated that Labour plans (i.e. Labour’s Growth and Skills Levy which would allow employers to use 50% of funds on non-apprenticeship training) would halve the number of Apprenticeships.  The Prime Minister also said that there had been 5.5m Apprenticeships since 2010.

The two-year Apprenticeship Growth Sector Pilot (£50m) for addressing barriers to growth in high value standards (e.g. engineering) is relatively modest, but welcome. The scheme will explore ways to stimulate training in growth sectors and address barriers. No information was provided on details.

UVAC Response to the Autumn Statement

The need to raise productivity in both the private and public sectors was front and centre of the Autumn Statement.


Accordingly the Government is right to celebrate the growth of Apprenticeships at level 4 and above.  As the Autumn Statement outlined: “In 2021-22, almost a third of all starts were at Level 4 and above compared to only 4% in 2014-15.”  (Autumn Statement, page 74)

Apprenticeships support employers to invest in their people to raise productivity.  In the Autumn Statement Government particularly emphasised the need to raise public sector productivity and referenced the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan. 


To raise productivity management performance must be raised.  This is why Apprenticeship standards such as the Senior Leader standard, used extensively by the NHS are so important.


NHS Trusts and other public and indeed private sector employers need the freedom to use any Apprenticeship regardless of level or age of a prospective Apprentice on the basis of the needs of their organisation.  The current Apprenticeship system provides such an essential freedom and flexibilities.  If Apprenticeship is to function as a productivity focused programme such freedom and flexibilities must remain.

UVAC looks forward to working with Government on the implementation of the Apprenticeship Growth Sector Pilot that focuses on stimulating training in growth sectors and addressing barriers in the use of high value Apprenticeships. We are also committed to working with Government to ensure Higher and Degree Apprenticeships support the Government’s agenda to raise productivity in the public and private sectors.


Other representative organisations have different views.  In FE News, in response to the Autumn Statement, David Hughes, Chief Executive of the AoC said: “I would like to see much more ambitious investment in skills for adults and young people as well as changes to the apprenticeship levy which we set out in our Opportunity England paper, for instance spending at least half of the levy on apprenticeships for younger, new job starters and entry level jobs, and requiring more transparency from employers on how they use the levy.”


Key extracts from the Autumn Statement relating to productivity, skills and Apprenticeships are highlighted below:

The government is focusing on five areas: reducing debt; cutting tax and rewarding hard work; backing British business; building domestic and sustainable energy; and delivering world-class education. P1


UK productivity growth has been subdued in the public and private sectors. This suppresses living standards and makes it more difficult to deliver the funding needed for world-class public services. P15


Looking forward, higher public sector productivity is necessary to maintain current levels of public service provision without growing the state unsustainably. To tackle this, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury is running an ambitious Public Sector Productivity Programme with all departments to reimagine the way public services are delivered.  P22


The NHS Long Term Workforce Plan will help deliver a more productive NHS and is underpinned by an assumption of 1.5% – 2.0% growth in labour productivity.  P38


To support a thriving economy, the Government will deliver a world-class education system to ensure employers have access to a strong, dynamic and highly skilled workforce that meets industry needs. P54


A crucial part of securing Britain’s prosperity for future generations is building a world-class education and skills system. Long-term investment in human capital is crucial for growth and productivity: changes in labour quality contributed to around 15% of growth in labour productivity between 2001 and 2007, and the majority of labour productivity growth in the years after. This is why the government continues to make year on year increases to school funding in England, boost opportunities for adults to train, upskill and retrain, and, from 2025, transform the student finance system through the Lifelong Learning Entitlement. P74


Beyond 16-19 education, the government is supporting employer- based training in England so that adults of all ages can access high quality apprenticeships. The government has transformed apprenticeships to offer a prestigious and high quality alternative route to higher education. In 2021-22, almost a third of all starts were at Level 4 and above compared to only 4% in 2014-15. P74


The government continues to work closely with businesses to improve the apprenticeship system to meet the needs of learners, employers and training providers. The government is supporting plans to catalyse the growth sectors by committing £50 million to deliver a two-year apprenticeships pilot to explore ways to stimulate training in these sectors and address barriers to entry in high-value standards. P74 


The government is committing a further £50 million for a 2-year pilot to explore ways to stimulate training in growth sectors and address barriers to entry in high-value apprenticeships.  P86


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