The week commencing 14 March 2016 is National Apprenticeship Week 2016. To mark the start of this event, seven business leaders from leading employers in the UK such as Fortnum & Mason, Deloitte and Prezzo met at the Shard and made pledges to increase the number of apprentices in their businesses. For example, Starbucks pledged to take on an extra 1,000 apprentices in its business by 2020. These pledges will assist the government with its own pledge to create 3 million apprenticeships in the UK by 2020.

These pledges came after Prudential released a survey on 14 March 2016, which suggests that 85 per cent of school leavers underestimate the amount of pay that apprentices receive, even though the average weekly wage is £257 per week. Prudential also launched its own 2016 apprenticeship programme, which will create 40 apprenticeships for young people who will be paid the National Living Wage of £7.20 an hour (significantly above the current Apprentice rate of £3.30 per hour).

This follows the publication of draft legislation introducing the apprenticeship levy, which is due to come into effect in April 2017. Affecting only the largest employers, it is proposed that the levy will be payable by employers at the rate of 0.5% of their total gross pay bill (excluding benefits in kind), with an annual allowance of £15,000 to offset against the levy payment. This means that the levy would be payable only on a pay bill in excess of £3 million.