9 January 2018 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
It was "frustrating" that the training sector had not been consulted during the formation of the apprenticeship levy, according to a training firm.
Chris Wood, CEO of Develop Training Ltd (DTL), said: "We have made great strides in understanding the opportunities, and we are already helping customers to make the levy work for them."
He made the comments as a government inquiry prepares to hear views about the levy, introduced in April last year.
Many of those views are likely to be critical, with some businesses complaining about red tape and branding the initiative a tax.
Wood added: "We understand the difficulties that businesses face, and it is good that they are having the opportunity to relay their frustrations to government. In the meantime, we encourage employers to get expert help to make the most of the situation. There are genuine opportunities to make the levy work, which go beyond traditional ideas of apprenticeships and into a much broader range of training, compliance and development programmes."
The government's education select committee launched an inquiry into apprenticeships and training in November, following a drop in the number of new apprentices. It is set to look at industry's views on the levy, which some commentators blamed for the fall.
The levy requires all employers with an annual wage bill of £3 million or more to pay 0.5 per cent of their staff costs into a fund that is topped up by government, and from which firms can withdraw money to pay for apprenticeships. However, if the money is not withdrawn by the set deadlines, it goes into general government coffers.