The logistics and transport industry has received just £250m in apprenticeship funding despite paying £860m into the apprenticeship levy since its launch in April 2017, according to research by the industry's apprenticeship Trailblazer Group.
The disparity has prompted the Trailblazer Group - which liaises with government on the creation of logistics and transport apprenticeships - to call for the apprenticeship levy payments to be used to fund driver training courses.
This is one of a number of key demands the Trailblazer Group has set out in its response to a government review of transport and logistics apprenticeships, led by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFATE). Launched in September, the review's findings are expected to be revealed early next year.
In its response to the consultation the Trailblazer group states: “From April 2017 up to the end of August 2022 the transportation and storage sector had contributed £860m in apprenticeship levy.
“There are no official figures for the amount of funding the sector has recovered for apprenticeship training although we estimate it to be circa £200m.”
It adds: “What the industry (represented by Logistics UK, the RHA and BAR) is seeking is the flexibility to use the levy as a training or skills levy rather than purely for apprenticeships.”
It points to the 16 week HGV Driving Skills Bootcamps, introduced last year to tackle the HGV driver shortage crisis, as evidence that drivers can be trained in a shorter time scale and calls for industry to be allowed “to use the levy payments for shorter training periods to train new entrants as well as upskilling its existing workforce.”
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The group also raised concerns at "bureaucratic delays" in delivering apprenticeships and agreeing changes to apprenticeships, warning that the delays are seen in the industry as a way of preventing employers from receiving the levy.
It lists a number of examples including the prolonged process to “justify the need for the Urban Driver Apprenticeship” and a query raised by the MOD on the LGV Driver Cat C+E apprenticeship on 9 March 2022, which, “despite agreeing to a slight adjustment, the formal guidance note to advise of the change has still not been issued.”
The group is also calling for a HGV driver training instructor apprenticeship. Its response states: “There are circa 5,000 LGV driver training instructors in the UK but again there is a shortage and we need people to train new drivers. This could prove a succession path for the LGV Driver Cat C+E apprenticeship.”
Speaking to Motor Transport, Jim French, co-chair of the Trailblazer Group for transport and logistics, said: "The overwhelming conclusion is that we now have some tangible evidence that the sector is paying far more in apprenticeship levy than it is recovering from transport and logistics apprenticeships."
He added: “We need to try to find a way to recover the levy via skills training rather than just apprenticeships. The problem is that the format of an apprenticeship is currently too rigid and formal.
"Two elements are sacrosanct – that it runs for 12 months and that 20% of the training is off the job. That needs to change and we also need to be able to cut through the lengthy bureaucracy to shorten the timescales.”
The Trailblazer Group is set to meet IFATE next week to discuss the progress of the review.