New research conducted by the professional body for HR and people development, the Chartered Institute for Professional Development (CIPD), has shown the current feeling of employers towards the apprenticeship levy, and has led to the CIPD urging the government to postpone its’ implementation in order to conduct proper employer consultations.
The study, based on two large employer surveys and in-depth interviews with HR leaders and other senior managers, comes less than nine months before the introduction of the levy and has shown that while 35% of employers are in support of the principle of the levy, 38% of employers were undecided and 27% did not agree. This figure changed amongst employers who were expected to pay the levy and had calculated what they would need to pay, with 39% being supportive whilst 47% were not. 26% of employers are unsure as to whether they would even be expected to pay the levy.
The usage of the funds from the levy was also raised, with only 9% of employers saying they would use the levy funding to develop a new apprenticeship programme, the levy’s prime purpose, while 18% stated they would use it to enhance their existing programme. When questioning SME’s, the businesses that likely need the most support when it comes to delivering training programmes, only 8% said they would use the funding to develop a new programme, and only 7% would use it to enhance an existing programme.
There was general concern over the quality of the apprenticeships that would be delivered as a consequence from the levy funding, with 21% of employers stating they would increase the investment in Level 2 apprenticeships and decrease the number of Level 3 and above apprenticeships, in order to maximise the funding they receive. Only 11% said they would have different priorities with more focus on Level 3 and higher apprenticeships, and worryingly 36% said they would have to cut costs in other areas of training and development and possibly re-name their programmes to access the funding.
In light of the research, the CIPD has made a number of recommendations to government; the first to have the introduction of the levy delayed to give time for an employer consultation, and following this a new levy and training arrangement to be built around this consultation. They have also called for the levy to cover a broader training programme, not just focussing on apprenticeships but also to include appropriate training methods suited towards different employers and sectors. Where employers then choose apprenticeships, the funding should be in favour of Level 3 and above qualifications to encourage more high quality, high level apprenticeships. Another of their recommendations is to allocate a portion of the funding to Local Enterprise Partnerships and business growth hubs to enable them to support local businesses, particularly SME’s, in the development and creation of higher level apprenticeships.
Further details surrounding the apprenticeship levy are due from government by the end of this month, and here at Aspire Training Team we’re keen to understand the next steps the government propose. We work with employers across the South to deliver apprenticeships in childcare, business administration and health & social care. If you’re considering hiring an apprentice then you can contact the team on 01202 551553 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.