Big firms will feel
the pain of the Apprenticeship Levy this spring when the first wave of levy
payments will be wiped from their accounts unless they have invested them in
Develop Training Limited (DTL), whose customers include household names in
construction and the utilities, says the deadline should focus attention on
making the controversial initiative work.
Companies with payrolls
above £3 million have been paying into the scheme since its launch in April 2017
and continue to do so monthly. They can get the money back if they invest it in
apprenticeship programmes with approved providers such as DTL, but there is a
That means in April this
year, levy payments dating back to the start of the scheme will go to the
Treasury, and funds will continue to be funnelled away each month on the second
anniversary of when they were paid in. So, for example, the levy payments that
companies made in September 2017 will no longer be available to invest in
apprenticeship programmes from September 2019.
The levy was supposed to
encourage firms to invest in apprenticeships but confusion and concerns about
costs meant the scheme initially had the opposite effect.
DTL hosted an Industry
Skills Forum in late 2017 for leading figures in HR in construction and the
utilities that highlighted wildly varying views on the levy, from companies
that were embracing it to train new and existing employees to those who saw it
as a tax.
Since then the government
has tweaked the scheme significantly, reducing the amount of levy payments and
allowing smaller companies to use levy money to help other organisations
finance their own apprenticeship training, typically those in the big
companies’ supply chains.
Now, despite wider political
and economic uncertainty, DTL hopes 2019 could still be the year that kick
starts the faltering programme. The training company has campaigned
vociferously for businesses and government to invest in training in the
construction and utility sectors to address the massive skills shortage faced
by the industry.
Whether by using
levy-funded apprenticeships or by investing directly in learning and
development, DTL is urging companies heading for the looming levy deadline to
meet the challenge and ensure Britain has the workforce it needs to keep the
country’s infrastructure and building projects running into the future.