Almost two-thirds of employers planning to offer apprenticeships intend to rebadge existing training they already offer, a new survey has revealed.
According to the 2017 CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey, 63 per cent of the businesses questioned said they planned to reconfigure existing training into apprenticeships, while 27 per cent expected to cut back on non-apprenticeship training activity to meet levy costs. Over half of respondents planned to create new apprenticeship programmes, and 46 per cent expect to increase apprenticeship places.
It also found that a third of businesses saw the lack of clear guidance as the biggest challenge they faced in the first year of the operation of the new apprenticeship levy, which came into force earlier this year. Almost 30 per cent said the inflexibility of the funding rules hampered their ability to take on more apprentices. When it came to filling apprenticeship places, 49 per cent said they had experienced some difficulty, or were expecting to do so in the next three years.
Speed and scale
CBI deputy director-general Josh Hardie said that given the speed and scale of the introduction of the apprenticeship levy, companies had worked very hard to get ready. He said: “The survey results give an early indication of employer behaviour, reinforcing business’ long-standing frustration that the levy’s narrow design pushes their focus onto cost recovery rather than good training that will drive staff progression and wider economic benefits.
“Increased flexibility will be vital so businesses can fund a wider range of training that better reflects employer and individual’s skills needs. Looking ahead to the introduction of the new technical education routes, we need to ensure we don’t employ the same rushed and politically-driven approach to system design.”
And Rod Bristow, Pearson’s president for UK and core markets, said: “We need a system that delivers high standards in three key pathways: the kind of academic skills we see in A levels, broader career preparation that we see in BTECs and specific occupation and job skills that will be represented by the government's planned T levels and more apprenticeships. These routes will all provide real opportunities for young people and help address the skills requirements of British business.” Some 344 business took par tin the annual survey.
Other survey findings:
- Thirty-five per cent of businesses say that there was too little guidance and support on how to make work experience places worthwhile for young people
- Fifty per cent of firms believed that there was a lack of awareness among young people of the education routes they need to take to enter particular careers
- Forty-nine per cent thought that careers advice was poorly aligned to business sectors, leading to skill shortages
- Thirty-five per cent of respondents said they were wholly unaware of the reforms of the GCSE grading system in England – although levels of awareness and understanding were growing
- Eighty-one per cent of businesses had at least some links with schools and/or colleges, with connections most widespread between businesses and secondary schools (66 per cent) and FE colleges (63 per cent)