SMEs hamstrung by Apprenticeship Levy limitations

AS THE UK celebrates National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) 2022, the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) urges levy-paying recruitment firms and SMEs to make sure they’re benefitting from the training system’s potential.

Carpenter, woodwork, saw, apprenticeship
Business photo created by pvproductions –

APSCo is calling on the government to broaden the scope of the Apprenticeship Levy to cover administrative costs and “bench” salaries to facilitate “a commercial, realistic and flexible scheme in which recruitment firms can fund ‘flexi-job’ apprenticeships”.

APSCo’s global public policy director, Tania Bowers — a DfE Apprenticeship Ambassador — says the theme for this year’s NAW, Build the Future, is apt.

“The government has just issued its Levelling-Up white paper, which includes a focus on developing the skills needed to support growth across the UK,” she said.

“We recognise the need to create a dynamic labour force that is fit for the future — and as part of that, we need a skills strategy that supports appropriate development of niche attributes in the workforce.”

The Apprenticeship Levy has been “a largely underutilised resource”, she says. “Many bigger recruitment firms have substantial levy pots but are unable to spend on upskilling their payroll of agency workers and independent contracting candidates due to the constraints of the levy.

“For levy-payers and SMEs, it’s possible to collaborate to ensure that funds are being distributed to those that need it. We are working with our membership to help guide employers to navigate the red tape to fund apprenticeship training costs.

“Larger employers can support SMEs with mentoring and training initiatives to build long-term sustainable relationships.”