The Manufacturing sector’s call for renewed government investment in apprenticeships

The manufacturing sector remains a high-growth core of Britain’s economic output, employing 2.7 million people and accounting for 45% of the country’s exports.

Make UK, among other prominent voices in the industry, is now calling for a rethink of the government’s levy money can be used to encourage apprenticeships schemes within the sector.

Figures show that just over £1bn worth of levy funds expired recently after going unused in the nine months since May 2020. Instead of letting this money slip away, why not make it accessible to those companies again?

The underuse of fund could well be related to uncertainties around the pandemic. While 47% of manufacturers still managed to recruit an engineer or manufacturing apprentice in the last twelve months, the volume of cash left unclaimed does seem to point towards a lower-than-normal demand.

The fact that 57% of manufacturers aim to hire a new apprentice in the next year is certainly a good thing, but the average cost of an engineering apprenticeship to a business is around £40,000, and just £27,000 of that is claimable from the government funds.

This can lead to some businesses struggling to make up the difference, especially given the unpredictable nature of cash flows the last year has brought about.

More detail can be found in the source article here – the whole thing makes a very compelling case for the redistribution of these funds to the companies who were supposed to claim them in the first place.

In doing so, the ideal outcome is that the government will be making an investment in the future of the industry by improving the opportunities of the newer workforce. And, in a world with increasingly fragmented inter-nation relations, continuing investment in the next generation’s development seems a prudent course of action. 

For many manufacturers, apprenticeships are key to unlocking our recovery, and building a strong industrial base in the UK. But they need more flexibility to do this effectively as they themselves are struggling to recover from the Covid crisis.

By Rebecca Garland on 27/05/2021