National Apprentice Week - Skills Levy URGENTLY needed

National Apprentice Week - Skills Levy URGENTLY needed

06 Feb 2023 Posted By Kate Gibbs

As National Apprenticeships Week begins again today, our Executive Director of Policy and Public Affairs has some thoughts on the Government’s flagship Apprenticeship Levy, and some ideas on how to improve it

Rod McKenzie | 6th February 2023 9:20 AM

As we kick off National Apprenticeship Week 2023, it remains as important as ever to ensure that young people and those switching careers are given the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to help kickstart our economy, as well as improve their own lives.

Over the last few years, we’ve had a front-row seat to the kinds of problems that can occur when there are skills shortages in vital sectors. Everyone in the country knows by now that there is a shortage of qualified HGV drivers – which has knock-on effects for other parts of the economy and household budgets.

We’ve been working hard to encourage more people, and more young people in particular, to join our industry, but we need smarter, more focused policy intervention.

While well-intentioned, the Government’s 2017 Apprenticeship Levy was not well-aligned with our business. Time and time again we were hearing that our members just couldn’t make it work for their businesses.

It was aimed at firms with a payroll of £3 million, forcing them to pay into a government pot from which they could draw down and pay for training requirements.

As a sector we’ve paid in £735 million but only been able to take out 20 percent of that figure.


There’s a gap between the way the Apprenticeship Levy works and the needs of thousands of small and medium businesses and their employees. For example, the Levy only works for 12-month apprenticeships; what if we don’t need that much training time?

We have a continuing shortage of lorry and coach drivers plus a desperate need for more mechanics, as well as backroom and warehouse staff.

This is why, during National Apprenticeship Week and throughout the year, we’ll continue to campaign for a ‘Skills Levy’ to replace it which would allow businesses to use funds for a broader range of training.

Being able to choose the scheme that’s right for employer and employee makes the training far more valuable, more responsive to skills shortages, and more likely to deliver a top-class employee.

Different training routes also encourages a more diverse group of learners, who in turn could be promoted and enjoy interesting and varied careers.

We’re after approved apprenticeships which don’t have to take a year to complete, along with non-apprentice training of 12 weeks. For many young people, a year out of their life seems like a long time, and we think there are many who may prefer a more intensive, shorter, time commitment.

We want training fully paid to firms that aren’t in the Apprenticeship Levy, such as many of our members, and traineeships to prepare young people and others for a new work environment.

Transport and logistics firms are complex and varied. Greater flexibility, less red tape and more tailored training would be a win-win for our industry. It might also help crack one of the greatest nuts we face – by improving diversity and inclusion – recruiting more women and people of colour into our great industry.

The Apprenticeship Levy doesn’t work – it’s time to replace it with something that does, the Skills Levy:

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National Apprentice Week - Skills Levy URGENTLY needed

As National Apprenticeships Week begins again today, our Executive Director of Policy and Public Affairs has some though...