The government has confirmed it will introduce the new apprenticeship levy in April 2017, prompting criticism from the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
The BRC has been lobbying to push the date back, to give retailers and other businesses more time to prepare.
But today, the department of business, innovation and skills (BIS) said it will push ahead with the initial launch date.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said the organisation “supports the levy’s aims and wants it to succeed”, and called today’s announcement “a big disappointment”.
“Retail is undergoing extensive change and that change is having a dramatic impact on our workforce,” she explained.
“It is essential that future jobs in retail offer high-quality, rewarding employment. That requires taking the time to design an employer-led solution to the levy so as to encourage employers to spend on high-quality training.
“As it is, there is a risk the levy fails both to realise its potential and reach the growth rates required in apprenticeship starts. That is why the government should delay its introduction to 2018, allowing more time to design a truly viable system that delivers high-quality training.”
A spokesman for the Department of Education repsonded to the criticism by highlighting that, as the levy was announced in the March 2015 budget, employers ”will have had almost two years to prepare and plan for this change by the time it is implemented”.
“In designing the funding policy we have engaged thousands of employers and training providers and their feedback has informed the proposals,” the spokesman continued.
”All employers and training providers will now have a further chance to feedback on the proposals for apprenticeship funding. They can respond by completing the survey published today by September 5. Final funding proposals will be confirmed in October 2016.”