The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has called on the Government to delay the apprenticeship levy until 2018, one year later than planned.
The levy was brought in by former chancellor George Osborne, who announced it last year. The Government hopes to raise £3bn from the scheme, funding 3 million apprenticeships.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “The decision to press ahead with the levy’s planned start date in April 2017 is a big disappointment to those like the British Retail Consortium who support the levy’s aims and want it to succeed.
“There is widespread concern in retail and other industries that had an over-hasty introduction of the apprenticeship levy and the design of its current proposals will fail to create apprenticeships at scale and drive up the quality of training.”
She said retail was in a period of intense change, which was in turn having a “dramatic impact” on the workforce.
She added: “As it is, there is a risk the levy fails both to realise its potential and reach the growth rates required in apprenticeship starts. That is why the Government should delay its introduction to 2018, allowing more time to design a truly viable system that delivers high-quality training.”