5 October 2015 | Herpreet Grewal
Employers are split over proposals to introduce an apprenticeships levy, says the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
A survey carried out by the professional body for HR and people development raises concerns that the levy will boost numbers of apprenticeships at the expense of quality, and could take investment away from other forms of workforce training and development.
Employers are divided over the government's plans to introduce an apprenticeships levy. Thirty-nine per cent are in favour of the levy in principle, 31 per cent oppose it, and a further 30 per cent are undecided in a poll of large employers by the CIPD.
The apprenticeships levy is a key part of the government's plan to boost productivity and to encourage employers to invest more in their workforce training and development.
The CIPD surveyed 275 employers to inform its response to the government consultation on the levy, which closed last week. It found that 30 per cent of organisations believe the levy would encourage them to develop an apprenticeship programme to help build key skills. A similar proportion (30 per cent) reckons the levy would help to increase the quantity of apprenticeships.
But almost a third (31 per cent) of organisations think the levy would cause them to cut their investment in other areas of workforce training and development. A further 22 per cent believe the levy could encourage employers to accredit training they would be running anyway as apprenticeship schemes, while only one in five (20 per cent) of respondents thinks the levy will drive up quality of apprenticeship schemes.
Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, said: "The government has rightly focused on the need to increase the quantity and quality of apprenticeships in the UK and is hoping the levy will lead to increased investment by employers in these schemes. However, our survey suggests that boosting both numbers and quality at the same time will be a significant challenge. If the government is serious about raising the quality of our apprenticeship system, it is important the levy is weighted towards increasing the number of apprenticeships at or above level 3."