The apprenticeship levy should be abolished and replaced with a skills levy that could be used for a broader range of training opportunities, according to the RHA.

The trade association for hauliers said the current system was not fit for purpose and only allowed firms to use funding for apprenticeships.

It said transport operators have pumped £735m into the levy pot since it was launched five years ago, yet they have only been able to draw down around 20% because training options under the scheme are limited.

It said reform of the apprenticeship levy system was needed if hauliers were to fully benefit from the funding.

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The RHA said a skills levy could allow businesses to use levy funds for a broader range of training programmes, including short modular courses and bootcamps.

Richard Smith, RHA MD, said: “It’s been long established that the apprenticeship levy doesn’t work for our industry. The criteria to apply for funding is too restrictive which is why firms in our sector are getting so little back, and therefore unable to recruit and train the staff they need.

“This is why we’re calling for a skills levy to replace the current system to make sure it better meets the needs of businesses – and there’s no more pertinent time than now as firms grapple with spiralling energy costs.”

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has also called for the apprenticeship levy to be scrapped, describing it as a “failed experiment”.

Earlier this month, the CBI urged the government to reform it in order to “unlock business investment in the full range of skills the economy needs”.