The travel industry is being urged to maximise investment in apprenticeships despite a 0.5% levy on payrolls confirmed by chancellor George Osborne.
People 1st is bringing together a task force of employers and trade associations, including Tui, Thomas Cook and Abta, to help drive forward the implementation of the new apprenticeship standards and influence the government on how the levy is implemented.
The skills and workplace development organisation says the visitor economy – of which the travel industry is a key part – will make a significant contribution to the estimated £3 billion the government predicts the levy will raise by 2019-20.
Larger employers in the retail, hospitality, passenger transport and travel industries – those in excess of a £3 million pay roll – will face bills of more than £100 million.
“The visitor economy needs to recruit 6.2 million staff by 2022 and apprenticeships can play a valuable part in this as they represent an important entry route,” said People 1st chief executive Simon Tarr (pictured).
“Apprenticeships become even more integral when you consider that the visitor economy needs to recruit 1.4 million managers by 2022. Put simply, apprenticeships are good for business.”
Tarr admitted: “The levy is going to pose some real challenges and there is a risk that those businesses offering high quality training will have to divert this investment to apprenticeships even if this is not necessarily the right fit.
“However, for many businesses apprenticeships can provide real bottom line benefits. For instance, 80% of companies that invest in apprentices report an increase in staff retention while an apprentice typically contributes £1,800 to the bottom line throughout their training.”
He added: “We have been working with over 200 industry employers to create new apprenticeship standards, offering employers a system that has been designed by them and for them, and prepares apprentices for a career, not just a job.
“Launching in spring 2016 the new standards represent the biggest change to apprenticeships in recent times.
“They have been created flexibly to allow businesses to choose a variety of training options which are right for their business, and we are working with the industry to demonstrate the benefits of apprenticeships.
“For the sake of these new standards, we as an industry, need to ensure the levy works for us; it’s going to be challenging for many businesses, but it’s not going to go away. We must now make our voices heard loud and clear to government on how it is managed.”
Tarr stressed how critical the visitor economy is in relation to the government’s stated goals.
“As a sector we will be making a significant financial contribution to the new apprenticeship levy,” he said.
“We also have the capacity to deliver high volumes of apprenticeships to help meet the governments’ £3 billion target and sustainable plans for how we can self-regulate the system to achieve outstanding quality results. Therefore, as a sector, we have a compelling case to bring to government.
“We have 18 fantastic apprenticeship standards already approved by the skills minister, which form clearly defined career pathways.
“If the sector can influence how the levy is implemented and managed, there will be huge benefits to be reaped across improving productivity, driving sector recruitment, better career progression and of course assisting staff retention.”
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