The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) has called for reforms to the apprenticeship levy after take up figures for apprenticeships continued to decline in the UK a year after the tax went live.

Steve Nash, chief executive of the IMI, said that while numbers in the motor industry are not as low as in other sectors, the sector should still be performing better, and blamed the complexity of the scheme for the shortfall.

In the six months after the levy was introduced in April 2017, the number of people starting an apprenticeship in the UK fell 40% to 162,400, according to a report from think tank Reform.

He said: "Too many employers have struggled to get the training they actually want and need for their businesses approved for re-claim against their levy payments.

"This is why many are simply regarding it as a tax and have disengaged. That’s a great shame because the introduction of the levy should potentially have resulted in new apprenticeships being offered in a great many sectors and occupations where they haven’t previously existed.”

He added: "A number of our large employers have told us directly that their apprentice recruitment has fallen short of their true business needs, simply because they haven’t found the new processes to be easy to understand and negotiate.

Nash called for a more pragmatic approach from the Institute for Apprenticeships, which he said would enable better engagement from employers.