A large majority of key business figures in the UK are either confused by or sceptical of the Apprenticeship Levy and its benefits, a study by CIPD course providers, DPG Plc., has found. Worse still is the majority which simply have not heard of the levy at all.
This highlights a desperate need for the Government to put more effort into promoting and demystifying the levy – particularly if it is to hit its 2020 target of 3 million new apprenticeships. According to the most recent figures*, the scheme has actually seen a 59% year-on-year drop.
The study found that a problem of awareness and perception lay at the heart of the levy’s poor impact. A stunning 27% of UK managers didn’t see the benefit from offering apprenticeships, and a further 17% didn’t see the point of them at all.
The issues culminate in revealing 93%† still at a stage where they won’t be making full use of the levy. This 93% breaks down to 49% saying outright they wouldn’t be using it, and 44% having no idea if they would. Nearly a year into the levy’s introduction, this reflects either an unattractive incentive or poor communication and implementation on the Government’s part.
One main issue that needs to be addressed is the 43% which stated that they wouldn’t be using the levy because there were no apprenticeships available for their industry. In fact, there are many business areas that the levy can be spent on, such as HR, IT, finance, management training, marketing, and design.
Well over half (63%) of respondents stated that they simply hadn’t heard of the levy, indicating that communication may be at the heart of the matter.
Paul Drew, Managing Director at DPG, said “These findings certainly highlight the need for a more focused approach to communicating the levy and its benefits. Gone are the days where apprenticeships were largely for school leavers and manual jobs, but sadly it appears that business perceptions haven’t quite caught up.
“The great range of business skills that can be developed through apprenticeships is a really positive thing and they can bring positive change for all sorts of businesses. The problem is that the government needs to make this more obvious and needs to make it more about the skills and benefits than about the money itself.
“Making more of a drive towards selling apprenticeships and their benefits is the way to go. They can be incredibly enriching not just when it comes to increasing in-house skills, but also on a personal fulfilment level for employees. Happy workers can be 12% more productive††, so in the end it can pay dividends.”
Other key findings from DPG’s survey:
- 93% of UK managers say they won’t or don’t know if they’ll be making use of the levy
- 49% of respondents said outright they wouldn’t be using the levy
- 44% had no idea if they will use it
- 63% hadn’t even heard of the levy
- 43% said they won’t be using the levy because there are “no apprenticeships available for [their] industry”
- 27% wouldn’t offer an apprenticeship to their employees because “there’s not enough benefit”
- 15% thought apprenticeships reduced productivity
- 17% didn’t see the point in apprenticeships
- Less than a quarter (24%) would feel very confident taking advantage of the levy