Firms fail to grasp Apprenticeship Levy opportunities, says research

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Large numbers of employees and businesses in the North West still know nothing about the Apprenticeship Levy, according to new independent research

According to research commissioned by the Alliance Manchester Business School, 39% of employers and 57% of employees in the North West know nothing about the Apprenticeship Levy.

The research indicates that the entire workplace is simply not grasping the opportunities of the new training initiative.

The YouGov survey also revealed that more than one in three GB businesses (42%) are worried about maintaining quality teams in the next two years.

Survey results also indicated that many businesses are doing little to improve staff retention.

Nearly a third of businesses in the region (30%) admitted to offering no formal professional development for employees despite 80% of North West employees saying quality training is an important factor when deciding whether to leave a job.

Dr David Lowe, programme director of Alliance Manchester Business School’s MSc management practice, said: “This survey clearly shows that the limited awareness of the Apprenticeship Levy spans the entire workplace, with employees as well as business decision makers knowing very little about it and therefore the opportunities it offers.

“On 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, GB is continuing to miss out on the growth opportunity provided by a highly skilled management force.”

Of the employers in the region that are aware of the scheme, 26% see it as a tax on business and 34% report that it has made no difference to the training they offer.

One factor that could explain the lack of engagement, could be a perceived cost barrier. Nearly two thirds (64%) of employers don’t offer external training to staff as they believe the cost is prohibitive. This is despite most businesses qualifying for either fully or part funded apprenticeships via the Levy.

Dr Lowe added: “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 team seriously.

“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.”

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