Professional Services News

The apprenticeship levy – a missed opportunity?

Share Article

Written by: Hannah Baker | Posted 06 October 2017 15:46

The apprenticeship levy – a missed opportunity?

Dominic Merlin-Cone, tax director at Grant Thornton South West, on why businesses need to be educated on the benefits of the apprenticeship levy

Six months since the apprenticeship levy was introduced, a British Chamber of Commerce survey has revealed that two-thirds (66 per cent) of businesses have either not taken any direct action to use the apprenticeship levy funds or did not know about them. The research also found that almost a quarter (23 per cent) of levy-paying organisations still don’t understand how the levy works or know how their company should respond to it.

While reports of the apprenticeship levy’s uptake have been largely negative, research by Evolve Learning Group and West London College found that 39 per cent of businesses have seen an increase in the number of candidates applying for vacancies and 31 per cent have seen a rise in the number of candidates hired. Meanwhile, 38 per cent have increased the overall skills of their workforce.

There is a huge opportunity for businesses to be educated on the levy’s benefits and in the South West we are seeing a shift in attitudes.

Read more: Business support organisation offering free cyber-security advice to Bristol companies

For the West of England, skills play a vital role, not just for businesses, but for the region’s economy as a whole. Grant Thornton’s recent Vibrant Economy Index found that while the region has one of the most highly skilled workforces in the UK, there is a gulf of opportunity which NEETS (Young People Not in Education, Employment or Training) are missing out on.

The Index found that Bristol has a high proportion of NEETS, revealing that the city is fairing worse than the national average (4.1 per cent) at 5.7 per cent. This compared with 3.7 per cent in Bath and North East Somerset, 4.4 per cent in Wiltshire, and 3.3 per cent in South Gloucestershire. While the apprenticeship levy cannot solve this skills gap entirely, it can certainly contribute to bridging it.

The very best firms are the ones which have a motivated, highly skilled and trained workforce. A successful apprenticeship scheme should instil a strong work ethic, professional pride and high standards into the participants, as well as encouraging extra-curricular activities for personal development.

Apprenticeships and training of the very highest calibre play a vital role to help people and businesses thrive. Our talented people, with their desire and determination to learn, hold the key to boosting businesses in the region, and we would encourage all businesses to consider how they might be able to use the apprenticeship levy to their advantage.

Share Article