Apprenticeship Levy has failed on every measure and will undermine investment in skills and economic recovery without significant reform, says CIPD

1 Mar 2021 01:10 PM

Reforming the levy to a broader, more flexible training levy would boost employer skills investment and business performance, while supporting the Government’s further education reforms, according to the CIPD

As the Apprenticeship Levy nears its fourth anniversary, an assessment of its performance by the CIPD on key measures over the period is damning. Analysis by the professional body for HR and people development has shown that since its inception employer investment in training has declined, overall apprenticeship starts have fallen and far fewer apprenticeships have gone to young people. 

The CIPD is urging the Government to announce it is reforming the apprenticeship levy into a more flexible training levy in the Budget this week to boost employer investment in workforce skills and help the economy recover. 

Key data used for the CIPD’s four-year performance assessment of the levy shows that:  

Looking ahead, the CIPD believes that without reform, the levy will have further damaging effects on investment in skills by:   

This last point is reinforced by a new large-scale CIPD survey of 2,000 organisations by YouGov on behalf of the CIPD which shows nearly half of large employers say that reforming the levy to a more flexible training levy would help them improve workplace productivity and business performance to either a great (23%) or a moderate extent (23%). Just 13% of large firms employing 250 or more staff said reforming the levy in this way would have no impact on productivity or performance.  

CIPD Chief Executive, Peter Cheese, said:  

“On all key measures the apprenticeship levy has failed and is even acting to constrain firms’ investment in apprenticeships and skills more broadly. It appears to have achieved the opposite of its policy objectives. Without reform it will act as handbrake on employer investment in skills, damaging firms’ ability to recover from the pandemic. 

“A more flexible skills levy would mean employers could use it to develop existing staff through other forms of accredited training and skills development which are cheaper and usually much more suitable for employees aged 25 and over, leaving more money to invest in apprenticeships for young people who most need them.  

“Levy flexibility would also help employers fund their employees through training in further education colleges as many technical and vocational courses are not apprenticeships. This key change would provide a big boost to meeting the ambition of the Government Skills for Jobs white paper and boost employer engagement with their local colleges.”