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One in six businesses believe apprenticeship levy is the right approach

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Over half (52%) of respondents cited the development and maintenance of digital skills within organisations as having a new urgency

One in six businesses (16%) believe the new apprenticeship levy is the right approach to tackle the skills challenge, according to research from the CBI and Accenture.

The annual Employment Trends Survey found that almost half (47%) of businesses were anticipating the levy being costly and bureaucratic. The survey was carried out before the details of the apprenticeship levy were confirmed in the Autumn Statement on 25 November 2015.

Just under half (46%) of respondents said that skills shortages threaten to have a major impact on the UK’s labour market competitiveness, and over half (52%) cited the development and maintenance of digital skills within organisations as having a new urgency.

Emma McGuigan, managing director of Accenture Technology, UK & Ireland, said that these findings signal a “real challenge” in the employment landscape. “The workforce of the future will not just be more digitally literate, but more capable of delivering new digital business models, customer experiences and business partnerships,” she said. “These broader digital skills will be essential to boosting the UK’s competitiveness and sustainable employment growth.”

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director-general, said that the government and business must contribute to building a higher skilled domestic workforce as well as allowing British companies access to the most capable people from overseas.

“Ultimately, we want to see the Tier 2 visa cap raised and for the UK to establish a longer-term and more realistic immigration policy that recognises the economic benefits of skilled migration,” she said. “We know there are significant public concerns about the social impact of high levels of immigration, which should be addressed. But we also need an economy that is thriving and growing to pay for the public services of the future.”