Independent research commissioned by Alliance Manchester Business School found that 33% of construction employers and 48% of employees admitted ignorance of the government’s apprenticeships policy, suggesting that opportunities are being allowed to slip.
The YouGov survey found that 38% of construction businesses across Great Britain admitted to offering no formal professional development for employees despite 73% of employees in the sector saying that quality training was an important factor when deciding whether to change jobs.
David Lowe, director of Alliance Manchester Business School’s MSc management practice programme, said: “This survey clearly shows that the limited awareness of the apprenticeship levy spans the entire workplace, with employees as well as business decision makers knowing very little about it and therefore the opportunities it offers.
“On one hand employers are not presenting professional development options to staff while workers are likewise not approaching their employers for the opportunity to complete management programmes because they either don’t know it’s a possibility, or don’t think their company would support it. Meanwhile the UK is continuing to miss out on the growth opportunity provided by a highly skilled management force.”
Of the sector’s employers that are aware of the scheme, 41% believe it is an underused training opportunity but 37% of businesses that offer formal training report that it has made no difference to the training they offer.
One factor that could explain the lack of engagement could be a perceived cost barrier, the business school said. Nearly two thirds (64%) of employers do not offer external training to staff as they believe the cost is prohibitive. This is despite most businesses qualifying for either fully or part funded apprenticeships via the levy.