CIPD research shows UK employer investment in training continues to decline and overall apprenticeship numbers have dropped, especially for young people who most benefit from and need apprenticeships.

Working with Youth Futures Foundation, this report calls for a reform of the existing Apprenticeship Levy to enhance employer investment in skills and boost opportunities for young people to secure apprenticeships that lead to quality employment.

This report outlines recommendations for a more flexible levy and the introduction of an Apprenticeship Guarantee for young people to rebalance financial subsidies towards younger apprentices.

Balancing act: Youth apprenticeships and the case for a flexible skills levy

Download the report
PDF document 495.3 KB

Recommendations for policy-makers

As it currently stands, the Apprenticeship Levy scheme has not succeeded in reversing the decline in employer investment in training, addressing poor productivity, nor enhancing the quantity and quality of apprenticeships. In reconsidering this area of policy, the next UK Government should aim at: 

  • rebalancing the apprenticeship system to primarily benefit young people, particularly those who experience socio-economic disadvantage, and
  • boosting employer investment in training and tackling critical skills shortages and skills.

This will require changes to the apprenticeship as well as the broader skills ecosystem as a whole. The CIPD recommends targeted action by the UK Government in the following areas:

  • reforming the Apprenticeship Levy into a more flexible skills levy
  • establishing an Apprenticeship Guarantee for young people aged 16-24
  • rebalancing incentives to encourage increased investment in youth apprenticeships
  • developing 'pathway' apprenticeships through a refreshed pre-apprenticeship programme
  • offering financial incentives to boost apprenticeship opportunities in small firms
  • strengthening sector institutions to help employers collectively identify and address emerging skills gaps and shortages at an industry level, as part of a renewed approach to industrial strategy.

Download the report for the details of these recommendations.

Balancing act: Youth apprenticeships and the case for a flexible skills levy

Download the report
PDF document 495.3 KB

More reports

CIPD Good Work Index

The CIPD Good Work Index provides an annual snapshot of job quality in the UK, giving insight to drive improvement to working lives

Labour Market Outlook

Read our latest Labour Market Outlook report for analysis on employers’ recruitment, redundancy and pay intentions

Pay, performance and transparency 2024

Insight from the CIPD’s survey into factors driving pay decisions in UK workplaces and recommendations for practice

Neuroinclusion at work report 2024

Find out about the importance of neuroinclusive workplaces, what employers are doing and the working experiences of neurodivergent and neurotypical employees

See all reports