Manufacturers are divided on the success of the Apprenticeship Levy, according to the In-Comm Training Barometer.
The survey, designed to assess UK industry’s propensity for training, revealed that just 55 per cent of manufacturers believe it is working.
Of the 71 respondents, just over a fifth said they had taken on apprentices as a result of the Levy, which represents an increase in the face of an annual decline in the number of Apprenticeship starts over the last twelve months.
These results are due to be presented to Anne Milton, Minister for Skills and Apprenticeships, during a delegation to Westminster involving 50 employers and apprentices.
Gareth Jones, managing director of In-Comm Training said: “There has been a lot of debate around the success or failure of the Apprenticeship Levy and these results show the jury is still very much out.
“Companies are tapping into it and we have seen a number of them use it to increase or start using apprentices, which, compared to the national reduction in starts, has to be a good thing. Encouragingly, 89 per cent also said they would employ apprentices in the near future.”
He added that anecdotal information received through the report indicates that managing directors and training managers believe there needs to be better communication, more transparency and an ability to use the Levy to boost other forms of training.
“A good number even indicated they wouldn’t mind going back to the old days of the Engineering Industry Training Board, where every firm paid a Levy, but could spend the money on all forms of training, not just apprenticeships,” said Jones.
The In-Comm Training Barometer asked manufacturers about the new Trailblazer Standards – where employers dictate training according to their needs – with two thirds saying they didn’t understand them and 87 per cent of those respondents citing ‘content’ as the main stumbling block.
When it comes to appetite for different types of Apprenticeships, only 32 per cent of companies are prepared to let their apprentices stay off-site for 18 months to complete their full-time Apprenticeships.
“It is vital that a tri-party collaboration happens here and everyone plays their part…industry to allow individuals the time to learn, providers to deliver industry-led content at high levels with no short cuts and Government with funded initiatives to help industry upskill and become more productive,” said Jones.
“Results from the Barometer also showed that companies, especially SMEs, aren’t preparing their workforce for the next industrial revolution, with just 45 per cent of respondents saying they are futureproofing their skills for Industry 4.0.”
The Training Barometer was completed by small, medium and large manufacturers, supplying 12 different engineering sectors.