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UK Music urges music employers to read up on government’s new apprenticeship initiative

By | Published on Thursday 6 April 2017

UK Music

Cross-sector trade group UK Music has urged music companies to get up to speed about a new apprenticeship levy that kicks in this week, both in terms of being aware that bigger companies will have to pay the new tax, but also that all employers can tap the scheme to help fund training for apprentices.

Under the new scheme, as of tomorrow businesses with an annual wage bill of £3 million or more will be subject to a new mandatory tax of 0.5% of total payroll. Companies can then reclaim the money in the form of digital vouchers to pay for apprenticeship training, on which the government will also add a 10% boost (so every £1 paid in can be translated into a £1.10 training voucher). Smaller businesses not paying the new levy can also benefit from the fund created by the new levy, claiming up to 90% of training costs.

A recent survey by recruitment company Manpower found that almost two thirds of employers new little or nothing about the new levy and apprenticeships funding scheme, which is one of the reasons why UK Music has been talking about it this week.

In recent years UK Music has been promoting the introduction of more apprenticeships in the music industry, capitalising on government schemes in this domain. The trade group says that, via its Skills Academy, it has now enabled 70 opportunities to be created, allowing people to earn while they learn while working in roles within venues, recording studios, collecting societies and record labels.

On her organisation’s past work in this domain, and the government’s latest apprenticeships scheme, UK Music boss Jo Dipple said: “For an industry new to the concept of apprenticeships, music has made a fast conversion. Teaching keen, diverse young people about a fast-changing business while working, and learning, as an apprentice is a win for both sides. Youngsters end up in the industry they love. Businesses profit from the renewed energy and talent which is brought into the workforce”.

She went on: “Getting the new system to work will offer huge advantages to the economy as we leave the EU. It needs a commitment from government to guide and explain to employers, especially the non-levy-paying [smaller companies], how they can benefit”.

On the prospects of the government’s new scheme, Dipple added that UK Music plans to monitor how it performs closely. She added: “If the placement of young people in new jobs is lower than the music industry achieved without it, the levy must be seen to fail the music sector. If the new apprenticeship quango, The Institute for Apprenticeships, becomes a wasteful beast – one the Tories feared during their ‘bonfire’ phase – the levy will have failed the new qualifying tax-paying companies. Only time will tell. We will review the impact of the levy on our sector in a year’s time”.

There is more information about the new levy and the new funding programme in England here.