Employers are finally getting to grips with the Apprenticeship Levy, a new survey from the IoD reveals, with over half of employers who use the system now saying they understand it ‘perfectly’, a 42% increase since March (from 36% in March to 51% in November).
However, the poll of business leaders revealed that awareness of recent Government reform is low, with only one in three knowing about the increased scope to transfer Levy funds to smaller employers. With three times as many large companies employing apprentices, compared with the rate for small companies, the IoD said work was needed to get businesses ready to make use of the new flexibility when it comes into effect next April.
While most business leaders favoured using apprenticeships as part of the training mix, almost four in ten felt they were not the most appropriate for them. A majority of these respondents said that their organisation would benefit more if they were allowed to use Levy funds on other forms of training, including traineeships or Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
Stephen Martin, Director General of the Institute of Directors, said: “The apprenticeship levy has had some serious teething problems, but these figures suggest that the creases are being ironed out. While there’s certainly distance left to travel, the Government deserves credit for listening to the concerns of business.
“Greater opportunity to transfer levy funds is a step in the right direction, and ensuring smaller enterprises are in a position to take advantage of this come April must now be the focus. We would call on larger employers who aren’t currently using all of their levy funds to talk to smaller suppliers to see if they could use an apprentice. It’s much better than letting the money go to waste.
“Looking ahead, we shouldn’t shy away from broadening the scope of the levy. Apprenticeships are an immensely valuable tool, but they aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Opening out the system to encompass other forms of training would be to the benefit of employer and employee alike.”