· News

Half believe government apprenticeship target won't be hit

Managers and the public back the apprenticeship levy but there are concerns around the number of apprentice starts

Almost half (47%) of managers believe the government will not hit its target of three million apprentices by 2020, according to research by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

However, the research also found broad support for the levy among managers. Two-thirds (63%) of the 1,641 managers polled agreed that the levy is needed to increase employer investment in skills.

The CMI's research also found that 88% of managers support the levy being spent on training for workers of all ages, while 69% would like to have management and leadership apprentices in their teams.

There was strong agreement that the benefits of new management apprenticeships include increasing productivity (73%), employee retention (72%), engagement and motivation (76%), expanding the talent pool (85%) and creating a learning culture (84%).

In light of the Department for Education announcing a review of the effectiveness of the current funding bands of the levy, the CMI recommended that employers and providers work towards making the system more effective.

Petra Wilton, director of strategy at the CMI, said: “Managers and apprentices now using the levy are clearly already advocates and starting to reap the business benefits. But too many businesses are still missing out.

“As we kick off National Apprenticeship Week far more needs to be done to showcase successes, widen access to smaller businesses, and raise awareness of how apprentices can work for all.”

Separate research by Grant Thornton in partnership with City and Guilds has revealed broad public support for the apprenticeship levy, with 77% of young people and 79% of parents stating that apprenticeships offer good career prospects.

The research showed that in comparison to traditional routes into education 42% of young people think that apprenticeships and university degrees have the same value, and 45% of parents think a university degree offers less value than it used to.

Keely Woodley, partner and head of Grant Thornton’s human capital practice, said that while there has been improvement in attitudes towards apprenticeships their benefits still need to be communicated more clearly.

“People are finally beginning to wake up to the fact that apprenticeships are a viable alternative to traditional routes. Previously people had seen apprenticeships as being specific to certain sectors, and being very rigid,” she said.

“Things have changed; it’s possible for young people to gain qualifications and obtain foundation degrees alongside receiving training on an apprenticeship. It’s also no longer for life; it’s about bringing in portable skills that can kick-start someone’s career.”

Woodley went on to cite figures from the research showing that while the majority of the young people surveyed thought apprenticeships offered good prospects, 68% said career guidance they'd received about them at school was poor.

“At a time when so many young people are struggling with debt from university and failing to get jobs they’re qualified for, there needs to be a joint message from both schools and employers that apprenticeships can be a strong link between education and the world of work,” she added.

Grant Thornton’s report, Generation Apprentice, interviewed 1,000 young people aged 16 to 25, 1,000 parents and 500 employers.