Only one in three employers are taking advantage of the apprenticeship levy

20 September 2017

According to research by Evolve Learning Group and West London College only one in three (32%) of employers who qualify for the Apprenticeship Levy are taking advantage of it to train new and existing staff.

The survey of 1005 employers with over 150 employees found that millions of pounds of apprenticeship levy money, aimed at increasing the vocational skills of the nation, is apparently going unused by businesses.

This is despite strong evidence that employers are finding it difficult to recruit staff with the right skills, including 90% of employers agreeing they find it somewhat problematic to recruit individuals with the right skills for their business, and 21% reporting that it was extremely problematic.

“Businesses are missing a trick,” says our CEO Garry Phillips. “By not tapping into the levy companies are passing up on the opportunity to improve existing staff skills and bring new employees on board.”

78 per cent of employers apprenticeship levy

Although some businesses have managed to take advantage of the levy, the survey shows there is still a level of confusion, with around three quarters agreeing that more needs to be done to increase understanding of the apprenticeship levy’s value, and a full four in five agreeing that more needs to be done to engage businesses to use the levy. Only 37% fully understand the levy and how it could help their business

Adding to the confusion around the levy is a two year time limit that has been placed on spending levy funds. Stuart Rowberry, Resourcing & Development Business Partner with OCS Group (UK) Ltd, says this means businesses need to act.

“I think many businesses are confused about how to use the levy, but with a limited period of time in which to invest the money, these businesses need to take action now or the money will be gone.

“I think one of the issues is that businesses have just seen the levy as a means of training new staff. They are also a great way to upskill existing staff so they can take on more responsibility and develop their careers.”

53 percent of London businesses apprenticeship levy

Despite not taking full advantage of the levy, businesses appear to be positive about its benefits., with 39% saying they have seen an increase in the number of candidates applying for vacancies and 31% reporting an increase in the number of candidates hired.

Even more positively, 38% reported that using the levy had increased the overall skills of their workforce.

When asked if looking to launch an apprenticeship programme in the next six months, 65% of employers said they would chose to do so via a further education college and a third 34% through a private training provider.

A full copy of the report ‘The apprenticeship levy – an untapped opportunity?’ is available to download from