Some two-thirds of UK companies have not invested in new apprentices over the past 12 months, according to the latest survey from In-Comm, a training and apprenticeship provider.
It discovered the pandemic is (not surprisingly) having a dramatic impact on vocational training. Apprenticeship starts dropped by nearly a fifth in 2020, and there is a growing fear that there is a risk of this exacerbating Britain’s skills gap.
The survey also found that half of companies have cut their training budgets and more than half of firms (53%) dropped plans to take on young workers as they adapt to the challenges presented by the virus.
Highlights from the survey of 109 employers include nearly nine-tenths of companies retaining their existing apprentices, while the government’s furlough scheme has allowed 72% of management teams to continue to offer training.
Bekki Phillips, Chief Operating Officer of In-Comm Training, said: “The appetite to invest in the future workforce is still there, but companies are under so much financial pressure from the pandemic that they have to make some tough decisions and it appears that this is already having an impact on the number of apprentices being recruited.
“We really need government to take note of this and look at how it could explore more targeted short-term financial support to help bridge the rest of the pandemic.
“Employers require support now and in a way that takes some of the financial burden away, maybe through a simplified grant scheme or maybe even shared apprenticeships, where a number of companies could invest in the one individual.”