Apprenticeships: one third of employers oppose government's levy plans

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Nearly a third of employers have stated their opposal to an apprenticeship levy, according to a new survey. Figures published today by professional HR body CIPD show that 31 per cent of employers oppose the government’s plans for a levy, while 30 per cent are undecided – leaving only 39 per cent in support of the policy “in principle”.

Consultation on the apprenticeship levy, announced earlier this year as part of the government’s strategy to fund the target of 3 million apprenticeships, closes today. While much of the detail on the policy is yet to be revealed, it will only be paid by large companies.

The CIPD survey, which included 275 employers with at least 250 employees, found that just under a third of companies believe that the levy would encourage them to develop an apprenticeship programme, although the same proportion thought the levy would increase the quantity of apprenticeships.

The knock-on effects of a levy were also raised, with 31 per cent of employers fearing that the levy would lead to a reduction in their investment in other areas of workforce training. Only one in five thought the scheme might drive up the quality of apprenticeship training.

CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese said the results showed that “boosting both numbers and quality at the same time will be a significant challenge”.

“If the government is serious about raising the quality of our apprenticeship system, it is important the levy is weighted towards increasing the number of apprenticeships at or above level 3.”

“It’s also important the apprenticeships levy is not regarded as a solution in itself to the skills and productivity challenges facing the UK. 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.”

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said that the consultation on the apprenticeship levy would close at midnight today (Friday), and further details would be set out at the spending review in November.  

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