Farmers Weekly March 2018

With Brexit fast approaching and fears about skills shortages growing in every sector, access to a talented workforce has never been so important. Research from City & Guilds last year found that 87% of employers are already struggling to recruit the skilled workers they need.

14 March 2018 / Jump to comments (1)

Dear Sir,

There is a growing recognition that the UK is facing a skills epidemic.

With Brexit fast approaching and fears about skills shortages growing in every sector, access to a talented workforce has never been so important. Research from City & Guilds last year found that 87% of employers are already struggling to recruit the skilled workers they need. 

There are additional challenges facing the agricultural sector.  Farming has been heavily reliant on migrant labour, with 75,000 seasonal workers required every year, 98% of whom are estimated to come from other EU countries, and a recent survey from the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers suggesting that more than half of dairy farms are experiencing difficulties with recruitment.

One way for the sector to attract much needed new entrants and address labour availability is to grow its domestic talent pipeline by embracing apprenticeships.

The Apprenticeship Levy, which came into force in April last year, has caused confusion among many employers, particularly with differences in implementation between England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It has often been portrayed in the press as unpopular, with recent reports suggesting that the drop in year-on-year apprenticeship starts reflects employers’ perceptions of the levy as nothing more than an unwelcome additional tax that they can ill afford.

However, the majority of farming businesses are SMEs who fall below the £3 million pay bill threshold, and therefore 90% of their apprenticeship training costs are met by the Government from the central fund.

Even for larger businesses who pay into the levy, the funds are available in full to be used to train their own apprentices. It’s both an opportunity and incentive for them to invest in skills development that will future-proof not only their own business, but the farming industry as a whole.  

Employers required to pay into the levy will only have two rolling years to access the government fund. After that point, any levy credit which hasn’t been used will automatically go to the Treasury. It therefore seems prudent to get the most from their contribution by utilising it towards their training budget.

It is key that agricultural employers understand what benefits they are entitled to under the apprenticeship levy and act now to ensure they maximise the opportunity before it is lost.

Yours faithfully,


Dr Robin Jackson, Industry Manager - City & Guilds

Comments 1 Comment

ifutcoy

29 April 2018

good

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