Two-thirds (65%) of employers are either opposed to or undecided about the apprenticeship levy, according to a report from the CIPD.
The research found that while 35% of employers support the principle of the levy, more than a quarter oppose it and 38% say they don’t know where they stand. Opposition to the levy increases among employers that expect to pay it and have calculated the approximate cost, with 47% of such employers opposed to the principle behind the levy and 39% in support.
A lack of available information was also a concern, with more than a quarter (26%) of employers stating that they do not know whether they are expected to pay the levy when it comes in. Only a third of those who expect to pay it (31%) have calculated how much it will cost them each year.
Nearly two-fifths of employers (36%) who have calculated the cost say it will force them to reduce investment in other areas of workforce development, and almost a third (29%) will look to offset the extra costs by adapting training programmes for existing staff so they can be accredited as apprenticeships.
Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, expressed concerns over the implementation of the levy. “We share the government’s ambition to increase the number and quality of apprenticeships in the UK," he explained. "However, our research suggests while the levy will boost apprenticeship numbers among some employers, the majority of organisations - particularly SMEs - are unlikely to use levy funding to improve apprenticeship provision.
"Our research also finds that the levy could have damaging unintended consequences. For example, taking investment away from other equally valuable forms of training and development and causing organisations to re-badge existing training schemes as apprenticeships simply to reclaim levy funding. Many large employers, particularly in low margin sectors and the public sector, will have to make significant cuts to their training budgets as a result of the levy, or will simply write it off as a tax."