Hoteliers are being invited to take part in discussions which could influence the Government's proposed levy on apprenticeships.
The chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne announced the funding plans for the employer-led apprenticeships in last year's summer budget, as part of the Government's commitment to achieve three million new apprenticeships by 2020. While details of the levy are yet to be confirmed, it is currently set to be 0.5% of employer's payroll for businesses with a payroll of more than £3m.
An allowance of £15,000 per employer will be available for all employers. This can be claimed during a period of two years while apprenticeships complete their courses or it will be lost.
At the Master Innholders' General Managers' Conference earlier this week, delegates were told that the new apprenticeships within the hospitality sector will have seven standards: hospitality team member, hospitality supervisor, hospitality manager, commis chef, production chef, chef de partie and senior culinary chef.
Sally Beck, general manager at the Lancaster London, who has been involved in a consortium of small and medium-sized organisations to help define the new standards, said the levy available to the four-AA-star, 416-bedroom hotel would be around £50,000 per annum.
"This translates to 25 apprentices in our business, which on the face of it is too many," she explained. "We had a rethink and have started working with our training provider, and are now reworking our management training course, which is a nine-month training programme into the hospitality manager standard.
"We are also reworking our Accommodation Services Academy into the hospitality team member level and then extending it through the standards to manager level. This combined with our kitchen apprenticeships mean we will hit our target to get back our entire levy, or to potentially claim back more."
Beck invited hoteliers to join the next meeting of the SME consortium to discuss the implementation of the levy. Stuart Segal, chief executive of the Association of Learning Providers, will be present and feedback will then be passed to the Government.
"It is important that Government listens to our consortium, as SMEs make up 95% of our industry, and for the three million apprenticeship goal to be achieved, the Government needs all of us, not just the big boys," said Beck. "Let's not make the levy become a tax."
The meeting will take place at the Lancaster London on 10 February at 2pm. Prospective attendees should contact Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org