January 19, 2018

Apprenticeship Levy Perception Survey

Figures Reveal Extent of Confusion, Scepticism and Unawareness Surrounding Apprenticeship Levy

The Apprenticeship Levy, which came into force in April 2017, means companies face a compulsory monthly deduction from HMRC. However, this money can be reclaimed if it’s spent on training. The purpose of the levy was to make offering apprenticeships more attractive from an employer’s perspective, but our survey reveals there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Training is what we do here at DPG, and one area that we’re deeply committed to is apprenticeships. We wanted to understand the landscape nearly a year after the levy was introduced and get a feel for how the levy was being received and utilised. After conducting a survey of 1,000 managers and business owners who manage staff, we were surprised by what we found. Overall, we were met with a decidedly negative insight into how mangers felt about the levy – one that correlates with the decrease in apprentice levels†.

What’s the issue?

Learning and development are vital for upskilling staff to achieve company goals, and also for staff motivation and retention. Despite this, 93% of the professionals* we surveyed said they either weren’t going to use the levy or didn’t know if they were going to use the levy or not. This breaks down to 49% saying outright they wouldn’t be using it, and 44% having seemingly no idea if they would – which is not exactly a ringing endorsement of the levy.

Perhaps the most shocking result is that 63% of respondents still hadn’t heard of the levy. As of January, now 11 months into the levy’s implementation, it’s fair to say communication has gone awry somewhere.

We wanted to gain insight into this failure to engage with the program, so we asked our respondents why they weren’t planning to use the levy to train new or existing staff.

Perception problem

Some of our respondents said they wouldn’t be using the levy because they “didn’t need carpentry and plumbers” – a sentiment echoed by the finding that 43% thought there were no apprenticeship schemes available for their industry. This, again, highlights the problem of perception and a lack of awareness or understanding. There is a wealth of business areas the levy can be spent on, including management training, HR, finance, IT, marketing, and design.

Some of the problems may stem from the legacy of previous “apprenticeship schemes”, which were focused more on specific trades or entry-level positions. The term “apprentice” conjures up images of school leavers and, whilst this demographic still play an important role in the workplace, a much broader spectrum of schemes is now available, and right up to degree standard. Indeed, those aged 25 and over accounted for 46% of apprenticeship starts in 2016/17, compared to 25% for those under 19††.

Of our respondents, 27% didn’t see enough of a benefit from offering apprenticeships, and 17% sadly didn’t see the point at all. Once again, this highlights the need for the government to go further than simply subsidising apprenticeships. Alongside training bodies such as ourselves, we need to truly help businesses see the benefits they can bring.

There may genuinely be companies who aren’t in a position to spend their levy on training – perhaps they are too small to release staff on training, perhaps their industry is too niche or staff are all fully-skilled already – but more often we speak with companies who are desperate for more money in their budget for staff development.

Going forward, the levy needs to be demystified, so it can be used and accessed by those who will benefit from it. Not just new starters, but also existing members of staff who would welcome an investment in training that would, ultimately, make them more effective within the business. Only then will the Government hit its target of 3 million apprenticeships between 2015 and 2020.

DPG have partnered with Interserve Learning & Employment to deliver our apprenticeships, blending our expertise in HR and Leadership and Management, with one of the most innovative, Grade 2 Ofsted-accredited training providers in the country. Together we combine 25 years’ experience in delivering pioneering HR and Leadership & Management qualifications with more than 14,000 successfully completed apprenticeships.

To find out more information about our apprenticeships, call 0330 660 0220 or visit www.dpgplc.co.uk/apprenticeships

*Managers/business owners who manage staff.