Belfast Telegraph

Businesses 'alarmingly unprepared' for apprenticeship levy

Most employers have little or no knowledge of the apprenticeship levy, just days before the new charge is coming into force, a study reveals.

A survey of 1,000 firms found that almost two out of three knew little or nothing of the system for raising money to boost the number of apprenticeships in the UK.

Manpower said its research found that almost a third of larger firms, those covered by the new levy, did not know if they would have to pay it.

The levy starts on April 6, with the government aiming to create three million new placements by 2020.

It will be paid by employers with a payroll of more than £3 million and charged at a rate of 0.5% of their annual wage bill. The Treasury has estimated it will raise nearly £3 billion a year.

Chris Gray, managing director of Manpower, said: "Businesses are still alarmingly unprepared for these changes, two years after they were first announced.

"Britain's biggest employers cannot continue to bury their heads in the sand.

"Large companies face paying tens of thousands of pounds into this scheme and they need to think about how they will make the most of the available funds.

"Based on today's survey findings, a lot of businesses will be waking up to a shock when the levy kicks in.

"Now is the time to find out more and to prepare for the changes."