In answer to a question from the Foyle MLA, the Economy Minister, Diane Dodds MLA disclosed that her department has paid out £66.27 million on apprenticeship training funded by the Apprenticeship Levy between April 2017 and January 2020.
However, this is much less than the £46 million to £50 million annual contribution from Northern Ireland employers through the levy.
Said the Foyle MLA: “It is a disgrace that employers in Northern Ireland are paying far more into the Apprenticeship Levy than is being actually spent in Northern Ireland on apprenticeships.
“Northern Ireland has a skills crisis.
“According to a new report from the Pivotal think-tank ‘Northern Ireland has the lowest skills levels of any UK region’.
“Yet we are not spending the money on apprenticeships that has been raised for that purpose.
“For many employers in Northern Ireland, the Apprenticeship Levy is just an extra tax burden, providing little benefit.
“That has to change and I will be pressing the Economy Minister to ensure this happens urgently.”