A third of eligible employers are not fully aware of the apprenticeship levy, less than two months away from its introduction, according to new research by City & Guilds.
The survey, conducted between November and December, was completed by 500 senior decision-makers responsible for training or managing apprenticeship budgets in their organisations. It showed that only 33 per cent of respondents felt fully informed about the changes that would be brought about by the apprenticeship levy. Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) were not aware of the new apprenticeships system, while 28 per cent of those surveyed were not sure if they would be paying the levy in April.
Meanwhile, only 31 per cent of respondents said they would increase their number of apprentices because of the levy, despite the government’s target to create 3 million apprenticeships starts by 2020. Some 15 per cent of respondents said that they would be cutting other recruitment schemes to pay for the levy, such as traineeships and internships.
However, the survey also revealed that more than half of respondents (59 per cent) intended to recruit apprentices in the coming year – 15 percentage points more than the 44 per cent who intended to recruit graduates.
'A cause for concern'
Kirstie Donnelly, managing director of City & Guilds, said: “The lack of awareness about the new apprenticeship system among our respondents is a cause for concern and shows that we still have a hill to climb in convincing people about the benefits apprentices can bring to business. However, those that do know about the levy are saying it is a great way for employers to pay for training, so there is clearly understanding and appreciation of apprenticeships out there.
"With just two months to go until the levy begins, it’s vital that everyone in the skills sector and government gets out there and communicates with these less enlightened businesses to help them see the huge potential benefits apprenticeships can bring."
Last week the CBI said that the first two years of the apprenticeship levy should be treated as a "transition period" for businesses.
A spokesperson from the Department for Education said: “Employers are at the heart of our apprenticeship reforms and have been working with us since 2013 to create the apprenticeship standards and ensure they are high quality and deliver the skills that they need.
"We have also published a detailed levy guide for employers and an online calculator that enables them to understand how much levy they will pay and how they could use their digital funds to pay for training in future.”