Since the Government reforms introduced in April 2017, many members have been left in a web of confusion and at times possible frustration for multiple reasons in attempts to get their workforce invigorated and enriched by new entrant apprentices. FIS has been monitoring, absorbing and managing members through this web.

Last week a highly critical report Bridging the Gap: next steps for the apprenticeship levy from the Learning and Work Institute was released. This 19-page document cannot be considered bedtime reading, but what it does provides are some big impact statements since the 2017 reforms and brings several critical issues to the forefront:

  • The number of apprenticeships starts has fallen by around 20% since these reforms, with a particularly large decline in the number of level 2 apprenticeships and rises in higher level.
  • What is clear is that apprenticeships look much different now, with growth in higher and degree-level apprenticeships which tend to cost more. Many apprenticeship standards cost more than frameworks, largely because they involve a longer period of training and robust end point assessment.
  • The cold hard truth – the result is the failings of the 2017 apprenticeship reform means the government is on course to miss its own target of three million apprenticeships by 2020 and bust the budget.

For some, the executive summary will provide the headlines you need. But you can review the full report here.

Whether an apprentice levy payer or not, these reforms have impacted your business and our sector greatly. If you need our help to assist you with apprenticeship onboarding or to understand the FIS skills responsive actions on your behalf, please contact


Authors – Stephen Evans and Joe Dromey October 2019. (Learning and Work Institute.)

Learning and Work Institute is an independent policy, research and development organisation dedicated to lifelong learning, full employment and inclusion