Not even 50% of manufacturers prepare their staff for Industry 4.0 and only 55% of them believe that the Apprenticeship Levy is working, a new survey has revealed.
Of the 71 respondents, little more than a fifth said they had taken on apprentices as a result of the Levy, according to the latest In-Comm Training Barometer.
This is a small number, but still an increase in the face of an annual decline in the number of Apprenticeship starts over the last twelve months.
These results are due to be presented to Anne Milton, Minister for Skills and Apprenticeships, later during a special delegation to Westminster involving 50 employers and apprentices.
Gareth Jones, managing director of In-Comm Training, commented: “There has been a lot of debate around the success or failure of the Apprenticeship Levy and these results show the jury is still very much out.
“Companies are tapping into it and we have seen a number of them use it to increase or start using apprentices, which, compared to the national reduction in starts, has to be a good thing. Encouragingly, 89% also said they would employ apprentices in the near future.”
Jones continued: “It’s clear from the anecdotal information we received through the report that a lot of managing directors and Training Managers believe there needs to be better communication, more transparency and an ability to use the Levy to boost other forms of training too.
“A good number even indicated they wouldn’t mind going back to the old days of the Engineering Industry Training Board, where every firm paid a Levy, but could spend the money on all forms of training, not just apprenticeships.”
The In-Comm Training Barometer also asked manufacturers about the new Trailblazer Standards, with two-thirds saying they didn’t understand them and 87% of those respondents citing ‘content’ as the main stumbling block.
When it comes to appetite for different types of Apprenticeships, only 32% of companies are prepared to let their apprentices stay off-site for 18 months to complete their full-time Apprenticeships.
Results from the Barometer also showed that companies, especially SMEs, aren’t preparing their workforce for the next industrial revolution, with just 45% of respondents saying they are future-proofing their skills for Industry 4.0 (the digitalisation of manufacturing).
Jones concluded: “If we are ever going to solve the productivity gap we need government to help engage these companies, make sure there is support out there to understand the opportunity and then ensure they are not left behind in the global race to become quicker, smarter and more efficient.”
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