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Editors hit out at government ‘red tape’ over apprentice journalist funding

Ian Murray 2Editors have criticised government “red tape” amid concerns that would-be apprentice journalists are missing out on training opportunities.

The Society of Editors has raised concerns with the Department for Education over its apprenticeship levy, which requires businesses with annual wage bills of £3m or more to pay 0.5pc of their payroll cost into a training fund, which they can then withdraw from when required.

The Society’s concerns come after the publication of data analysis, commissioned by the Open University, which found that more than £1.28 billion of funding that has been paid into the apprenticeship levy is still sitting in National Apprenticeship Service accounts, with just £108m being withdrawn.

In a letter to Anne Milton MP, Minister of State for Skills and Apprenticeships, the Society raised serious concerns over the accessing of funds for the training of apprentice journalists and other positions in the media.

Ian Murray, executive director of the Society said: “What is a laudable scheme – to create three million apprentice places in the UK across all sectors by the year 2020 – appears to be falling foul of immense red tape and bureaucracy.

“While the Society of Editors is concerned regarding training in the media, we also feel that the exasperations and problems felt by those in our industry are most likely replicated across the whole spectrum of British industry.

Ian, pictured, added: “The experiences of our members working in the media industry who are finding difficulty in securing funds for apprentice schemes would appear to show at least some of the reasons why so little funding has been made available under the scheme.”

In response, a DfE spokesperson said: “Our reforms to the apprenticeship system are about increasing the number of quality apprenticeships in this country to give people and businesses the skills they need to thrive.

“To do this we have put employers at the heart of designing the new apprenticeship standards and we have seen a big increase in people starting on our new, higher-quality apprenticeships.

“Levy funding is already, quite rightly, fully devolved to employers – giving them direct control so they can invest in high quality training, to suit the needs of their business.”