Two-thirds of businesses are missing out by not taking advantage of the apprenticeship levy, according to the latest data.
Research from Evolve Learning Group and West London College has shows that only a third of employers (32%) who qualify for the apprenticeship levy were taking advantage of it.
It also found that millions of pounds of apprenticeship levy money was going unused by businesses, which was available for training existing and new staff to increase vocational skills.
This was despite 90% of employers saying they found it difficult to recruit individuals with the right skills, it said.
“Businesses are missing a trick,” said Garry Phillips, chief executive of West London College. “By not tapping into the levy, companies are passing up on the opportunity to improve existing staff skills and bring new employees on board.”
The research suggested that there was still some level of confusion over the levy, with three-quarters (78%) saying more needed to be done to increase understanding of the levy’s value.
Four-in-five (80%) agreed that more needed to be done to engage businesses to use the levy, while only 37% said they fully understood the levy and how it could help their business.
Stuart Rowberry, resourcing and development business partner, OCS Group UK, said: “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 up-skill existing staff, so they can take on more responsibility and develop their careers.”
However, when respondents were asked whether they would launch an apprenticeship programme in the next six months, almost two-thirds (65%) said they would choose to do so via a further education college and a third (34%) through a private training provider.