In his summer budget back in July, George Osborne announced the introduction of a new apprenticeship levy that he claimed would offer a solution to the UK’s productivity and skills crisis. The proposed levy will be collected from large businesses in the public and private sectors, with those organisations that make a commitment to apprenticeship training expected to get more back from the levy than they put in. Over time, it’s hoped that the scheme will encourage companies to invest in the development of apprentices instead of relying on recruitment from competitors or overseas.
However, according to new research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the apprenticeship levy has caused something of a divide amongst employers. Conducted to inform its response to government consultation on the levy, the organisation surveyed 275 employers with 250+ employees. While 39% of respondents said they are in favour of the levy, 31% said they are opposed and 30% are still undecided. Furthermore, 30% of companies believe the levy would encourage them to develop an apprenticeship programme and 30% said it would help increase the quantity of apprenticeships.
The survey also revealed that 31% of employers believe the levy would reduce their investments in other areas of workforce training and development, 22% believe it could encourage them to accredit training that they are already running as apprenticeship schemes, while only 20% of respondents said they thought it would increase the quality of apprenticeship schemes.
“Apprenticeships are important but to ensure that people’s skills are developed and used effectively in the workplace, we also need to prioritise investment in organisations’ leadership and people management capability which underpins more strategic workforce investment,” said Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD. “We need to balance the strong training and support that workers receive during an apprenticeship with lifelong skills development, to ensure that employees and businesses stay productive.”
We’ll see whether employers’ voices are heard after the consultation on the levy ends today.