Jon Graham, Chief Executive of JTL, has criticised an “outrageous abuse of the training levy system” by universities.

In Jon’s view, many are using a loophole to run ‘MBA apprenticeships’, contrary to the spirit of the apprenticeship scheme and the intended use of the levy when it was introduced last year.

He said: “We understand that a large number of universities – possibly as many as 50 – intend to register on the government’s register of approved apprenticeship training providers in order to tap into the more than 1,400 people expected to enrol for these so-called MBA apprenticeships over the next year or so.

“MBA apprenticeships clearly do not meet any sensible definition of apprenticeships as we know it, and we’re pretty sure that using training levy money for these MBA apprenticeships was never envisaged by the government or anyone involved with setting up the training levy at the time. Some companies – and some government departments – are using these MBA apprenticeships to train employed people who already have degrees.”

Jon estimates that, currently, this activity accounts for around 1% of Apprenticeship Levy funds, but could hint at much more. He proposed that, if the government is willing to turn a blind eye to abuse of the system, there is serious concern about what else the levy will be used for in the future.

He added: “It’s frankly ludicrous to dip into this fund that was clearly intended to provide career paths for young people looking to learn a profession through the apprenticeship route.”