· 2 min read · News

More than a third of employers know nothing about apprenticeship levy


Both employers and employees are failing to embrace opportunities for professional development

More than a third (38%) of employers and more than half (58%) of employees know nothing about the apprenticeship levy, according to research from the Alliance Manchester Business School.

Of the employers that are aware of the scheme, 29% see it as a tax on business. Meanwhile 31% of businesses that offer formal training report that it has made no difference to the training they offer.

The research suggested that a perceived cost barrier could be a factor in this lack of engagement. Almost two-thirds (65%) of employers said they do not offer external training to staff as they believe the cost is prohibitive. This is despite the fact that most businesses qualify for either fully- or part-funded apprenticeships via the levy.

David Lowe, senior lecturer in commercial management at Alliance Manchester Business School, said that awareness of the levy is still limited. “This survey clearly shows that the limited awareness of the apprenticeship levy spans the workplace; with employees as well as business decision-makers knowing very little about it and therefore the opportunities it offers,” he said.

Lowe added that neither employers nor staff are embracing opportunities for professional development.

“On the one hand employers are not presenting professional development options to staff, while workers are likewise not approaching their employers for the opportunity to complete management programmes because they either don’t know it’s a possibility or don’t think their company would support it. Meanwhile [the UK] is continuing to miss out on the growth opportunity provided by a highly-skilled management force.”

The research also found that more than one in three British businesses (38%) are worried about maintaining quality teams over the next two years. However, the findings indicated that many businesses are doing little to improve staff retention. A third (32%) admitted to offering no formal professional development for employees, despite 74% of employees saying quality training is an important factor when deciding whether to leave a job.

Employers must implement development programmes if they are serious about improving productivity, Lowe advised. “If maintaining a quality team is really such a threat to business as leaders are telling us, and leaders want to increase productivity, it is essential that this lack of formal development across businesses is addressed. Businesses must take the need to upskill their teams seriously,” he said.

“Quality leadership development is an excellent way to supplement the skills of individuals with talent, technical ability or industry know-how with those of quality management, which will ultimately reap results for the business. The apprenticeship levy is ready and waiting to alleviate skills, retention and productivity issues for business, but leaders need to act now to join the dots.”

These findings follow the announcement by chancellor Philip Hammond in October that the government recognised concerns about the slow uptake of the levy, and of plans to make the scheme more flexible – to come into effect from April 2019.

Alliance Manchester Business School commissioned YouGov to conduct the employee survey of 2,001 adults and employer survey of 1,000 senior decision-makers.