Early signs bode well for the Apprenticeship Levy in shipping

Money will begin to be paid out from the UK Apprenticeship Levy later this month and early signs show the scheme has already encouraged some maritime businesses to take on more apprentices.

The Apprenticeship Levy came into effect on April 6th and is a tax on all UK employers that will support the funding of apprenticeships. Companies that pay more than £3 million in wages are now liable to pay 0.5% of their paybill into a fund, to which the government adds an extra 10% in England (different regimes apply in Scotland). Employers can then use this fund to spend on apprenticeship training.

The levy aims to help increase annual spending on apprenticeships to £2.5 billion by 2019-2020, which is double the 2010-2011 level.

Mark Burgess, the Merchant Navy Training Board’s (MNTB) training development manager, says he has so far spoken to four different shipping companies that have begun paying the levy. Two of these companies say they are consequently planning to start training apprentices, most of whom will be deck ratings. Other apprentices will be employed in engineering, onboard retail or catering.

“The next test will be to see if employers are able to access the service effectively, via the HMRC gateway,” Mark says.

Reports this month say the government has wrongly categorised some large firms like Santander as non-levy payers, which fall below the £3 million paybill threshold. Likewise, the payrolls of smaller employers have been classified erroneously as being above this level.

Mark says there is no need for companies to worry unduly about being wrongly allocated, but should nevertheless bear in mind that there may be teething problems with the new levy system.

The government hopes increased funding from the levy and new apprenticeship standards will give employers more control over designing training to suit their requirements. To do this, so-called Trailblazer groups have been established to develop new standards.

The MNTB provides the secretariat for the Maritime Trailblazer group, which is led by employers with representation from colleges, trade unions RMT and Nautilus International, the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA), SQA awarding body and the Maritime Skills Alliance.

The group aims to enable a wider range of training for ratings and is currently working on electrical and mechanical standards for engine room ratings, plus other standards for those working in onboard retail and on superyachts. A new standard for training apprentices in maritime catering was recently approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships.

For more information on Merchant Navy apprenticeships, contact Mark Burgess.


For more information contact:

Holly Birkett

Communications Manager (content & digital)

020 7417 2868 / 07807 790058