Responding to today’s figures from the Department for Education confirming a 59 per cent drop in the number of apprenticeships in the last 3 months of the academic year, compared to the same time a year earlier, Mike Cherry, National Chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: “Today’s figures have confirmed our fears over a significant drop in apprenticeships. Getting more people doing apprenticeships is critical, especially if we are to tackle the skills shortage biting many small firms.” “The apprenticeship levy isn’t solely to blame for this drop. The reality is that 98 per cent of firms don’t pay the levy, and these small businesses will be essential to the Government reaching its target of 3 million apprenticeships by 2020. While many small firms are committed to apprenticeships, many are still overwhelmed by the complexities in the system. The Government should make sure that when levy payers are able to share their digital vouchers they do so with small firms in their supply chain. Small firms should also be involved in the design of the new apprenticeship standards”.