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End the scandal of using apprenticeship money to pay for high-flying MBAs

Editorial: The government has tried to stop the apprenticeship levy being used for MBAs but companies and business schools have found a way around the ban

Saturday 04 March 2023 21:30 GMT
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The idea of the apprenticeship levy is a good one; it just needs to be implemented correctly
The idea of the apprenticeship levy is a good one; it just needs to be implemented correctly (PA)

The abuse of the apprenticeship levy is a case study in how well-meaning government policies can be manipulated. The levy was David Cameron’s policy that came into effect in 2017, applying to companies with annual wage bills over £3m, at a rate of 0.5 per cent. The proceeds have to be used to recruit and train apprentices, with any unspent amount handed over to the Treasury.

Some employers took advantage of poorly drafted legislation to use the levy to pay for Masters of Business Administration courses for existing well-paid executives. Using the levy to pay for MBAs was banned by Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, in 2021, but The Independent’s investigation reveals that some companies have found a way around the ban.

As we report, some business schools have divided their MBAs into two parts, allowing companies to use the levy to train senior executives for most of the course, while providing additional modules, paid for by the candidate or their employer, to complete an MBA qualification.

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