IMI backs Apprenticeship Levy delay

A number of business groups have urged the government to delay implementation of the Apprenticeship Levy, due to be introduced next April.

The latest to speak up is IMI CEO Steve Nash, who has added his voice to an industry chorus already including the CBI, EEF, Charity Finance Group and IoD.

He said, ‘We wholeheartedly support the need for more people to take the apprenticeship route, and with the automotive retail sector facing a severe skills shortage, especially in technical roles, apprenticeships will continue to play a crucial role in in tackling this.

‘While automotive has had a very long tradition of providing quality apprenticeship opportunities for young people, particularly in the technical disciplines, we operate in a hugely varied sector and apprenticeships are not common entry routes for all of our sub-sectors. Employers in those parts of the industry need more time to consider collectively what type of apprenticeships may be appropriate and beneficial to their businesses and then have the opportunity to put the specifications together. They should not be rushed into doing this by an artificially tight timescale, especially considering that many are still unclear about the government’s wide ranging and ongoing reforms to apprenticeships.

‘As the professional body for the automotive industry the IMI would be delighted to engage with the government in order to help employers in our sector make apprenticeships an integral part of their wider recruitment strategy, covering a greater variety of roles than has traditionally been the case, as well as reaching into such areas as vehicle rental & leasing and fleet, for example, where there are large employers who will be subject to the levy on their payroll but for whom there are currently no suitable apprenticeships in existence or even planned.

‘At the very least, delaying the implementation of the levy will ensure that employers, who are currently more preoccupied with the potential effects of Brexit, have the time to fully understand the implications for their own businesses.’

The levy is intended to encourage more employers to take apprentices, with government support. At the moment the retail motor industry needs 1,200 apprentices every year just to stand still.