Almost a million temporary workers could benefit from better skills training if they had access to the training funds that their agencies pay to the Treasury, according to a report.
Courses that could lead to significant pay rises and higher productivity would be unlocked if money paid in the apprenticeship levy could also be used on other qualifications as part of a skills levy, says the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).
Call for apprenticeship levy reforms
The organisation launched a petition calling for changes to the apprenticeship levy, saying it was "poorly designed, inflexible and doesn't reflect modern working practices".
Around 670 REC members have £104 million of apprenticeship levy funds between them going unspent, because it cannot be used to support the temporary workers on their payrolls, it was suggested.
REC chief executive Neil Carberry said: "The apprenticeship levy was designed with the best of intentions, but everyone knows it is not working as intended. It's time for reform."
"As we redesign the levy, keeping support in place for apprenticeships matters, but we must end the scandal of locking temporary workers out of the system. Employers are paying a levy for them, but can't use it to support their development – 95 per cent of REC members who pay the levy cannot use the funds available to them to train their staff.
"One of our members told us that they would use a reformed levy to enable their staff to 'secure longer-term, sustainable employment and build their personal resilience'. We should be helping these well-intentioned employers unlock productivity in their workforce by using the levy to train temps."
Since April 2017, large businesses have had to pay an apprenticeship levy. The aim of the levy was to increase the number of apprenticeships across the country.
A DfE spokesperson said: “The levy has been set at a level to fund employer demand for high-quality apprenticeships. Widening its scope would divert funding away from apprenticeship training and reduce the opportunities for individuals and employers to benefit from them.”
“Our reforms including the introduction of the levy have made apprenticeships better - they are now longer, higher-quality and with more off-the-job training.
“In response to feedback from employers we have made the levy more flexible. Levy paying employers now have up to 24 months to spend their funds and can transfer up to 25 per cent of their funds to other employers."