The FTA is calling for the government to switch the logistics industry’s Apprenticeship Levy payments to a Skills Levy so firms can retrain staff in new roles rather than make them redundant.

The call comes as the logistics industry braces itself for redundancies as the government winds down the furlough scheme.

Elizabeth de Jong, FTA policy director said the funding could be switched to a training grant so that employees could be retrained to meet the requirements of Brexit.

“With many new job opportunities arising as a result of the UK’s new future relationship with the EU at the end of the year, now would be an ideal time to use the funding as a training grant to start retraining workers in the sector to fulfil new roles in customs and trade procedures, rather than making them redundant after the pandemic," she said. "Logistics businesses cannot afford to pay twice to train staff."

Logistics firms have continued to pay into the levy, throughout the lockdown, despite calls from the FTA in March for payments to be suspended during the Covid-19 crisis.

Payments are 0.5% of a business’ annual pay bill for those with an annual salary total of more than £3m. The logistics sector has paid over £410m into the Apprenticeship Levy pot, but has only drawn down 10% of these funds.

De Jong said this was largely due to the lack of an appropriate HGV driver apprenticeship. The current standard does not include training for a C+E licence.

She added: “With so many businesses already under strain as a result of the economic shutdown, it is imperative that we protect those already in the workforce by providing them with retraining opportunities – but we need monies to be able to fund this learning and development.

“The current apprenticeship scheme does not give industry sufficient help to provide the workforce needed right now, and simply represents an additional tax on companies trying to keep Britain trading as the economy re-emerges. We urge the government to rethink its approach as a matter of urgency.”