22 Jul 2024

AUTOMATION FOR MANUFACTURING

Manufacturers want unused £2bn levy to go to apprentices

Make UK wants the government to help manufacturers to take on more apprentices

UK manufacturers have called on the Government to adopt a special approach to how the manufacturing sector can spend left-over apprenticeship levy funds, which are currently expiring and going to waste. Make UK, the manufacturers’ body, wants to spend the funds – which amounted to almost £2bn last year – to pay the wages of new apprentices. It says this would result in a significant boost to the number of young recruits entering the sector.

With many manufacturers located in the “Red Wall” areas of Britain, Make UK argues that manufacturing can create high-wage, high-value jobs to help the UK to “level up”. The sector already pays higher wages than the rest of the economy, and employs some 2.7 million people across the UK.

Despite the pandemic, 47% of UK manufacturers recruited an engineering or manufacturing apprentice last year, and 45% say they plan to do so in 2022. But Make UK contends that there is “untapped potential” to take on even more apprentices.

“With a bit of flex in the levy spending arrangements, manufacturers could do even more in terms of building the workforce of the future,” says Make UK’s senior policy manager, Jamie Cater. “Manufacturers are telling us they are keen to take on more apprentices to fill the skills gap which would, in turn, allow businesses to grow and help level up regions.

“Currently an average four-year engineering apprenticeship can cost a business up to £120,000 to deliver, yet just £27,000 of that cost is currently claimable from levy funds,” he adds. “The system as it currently stands often leaves companies struggling to pay an apprentice, leaving their levy contribution unspent.

“A special targeted approach to levy funds would go a long way to allowing manufacturers to deliver even more high-wage, high-value job opportunities across the UK.”

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