Foreword by Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Employability & Training
Modern Apprenticeships play an increasingly important part in Scotland's approach to workforce development and youth employment. In partnership with employers and training providers, the Scottish Government has increased the number of Modern Apprenticeship opportunities to 26,000 in 2016/17. As part of Scotland's Youth Employment Strategy Developing the Young Workforce we are committed to growing the number of opportunities to 30,000 a year by 2020.
The introduction of the UK wide Apprenticeship Levy was announced by the UK Government. This was done without any prior consultation with the Scottish Government and the other Devolved Administrations, despite apprenticeship policy being a fully devolved matter.
The Scottish Government is committed to working with employers to shape our response to the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy. We want to take full account of employers' views on how Levy funding coming to Scotland can be used to benefit employers, individuals and our economy as a whole.
From our early discussions with employers there is a strong commitment to protecting our distinctive Scottish approach to providing high quality apprenticeship opportunities which respond to the current and future needs of the Scottish economy.
However the employers we have spoken to have suggested a more flexible approach which sees Levy funding to support workforce development more widely while protecting the development of the apprenticeship programme.
While ultimately decisions on the use of Levy funding will have to be taken against the backdrop of ongoing austerity imposed by the UK Government, the input of employers and other interested parties through this consultation will contribute significantly to the Government's response. I encourage you to respond to this consultation to aid that work.