@IfATEched opened a pulse survey on 1 September 2020:

COVID-19 pulse survey- September 2020

This is the second survey run in 2020 with a focus on the impact of COVID-19 on businesses.

There were 340 responses to the survey. The online survey ran from 1 to 30 September 2020.

The target audience for the survey was employers.

The Institute reached out to employers through:

  • trailblazer network (4566 contacts)
  • T Level Panel (212 contacts)
  • Small Business Forum (12 contacts)
  • Third-party contacts including Professional Bodies
  • Social media – LinkedIn and Twitter
  • previous respondents

There were 340 responses to the survey. Based on the direct email contacts with trailblazers, T Level panel members and the Small Business Forum members, this is a response rate of 7%. This does not consider the other types of communication, so the actual response rate will be lower. Multiple respondents may be from the same organisation.

Findings

Current apprentices

Respondents were asked about apprentices they currently employ. 275 respondents had apprentices in their organisation at the time of the survey.

78% of respondents said most of their apprentices are doing off-the-job training, compared to 62% of respondents in the June survey. This is mostly through distance learning.

The percentage of employers stating the majority of apprentices are on furlough was 17%, compared to 29% in the first pulse survey.

Table 1 shows the responses across categories. A respondent could select more than one choice, so the percentages do not add up to 100%. For example, apprentices could be furloughed and also be continuing off-the-job training.

Table 1:  Responses to the question “Which of these categories apply to the majority of your apprentices?”

Categories

Number of respondents who indicated this response

Percentage of respondents who indicated this response

Percentage in June 2020 survey

Off-the-job training is happening either as distance learning or face to face

215

78%

62%

Off-the-job training is happening as distance learning

182

66%

60%

Off-the-job training is happening face to face

89

32%

6%

Furloughed

48

17%

29%

Total respondents

275

 

282

Source: Supporting table T2 and June 2020 T2. Survey question:” Which of these categories apply to the majority of your apprentices?”

There is a difference in responses by sector, as shown in Table 2. This counts respondents who selected “Off-the-job training is happening as distance learning” and/or “Off-the-job training is happening face to face”.

The differences between sectors could be due to differences in COVID-19 impact or response bias.

Sectors are grouped into ‘Other sectors’ where individual sector responses were too few to allow individual reporting. The other sectors for Table 2 and 3 are:

  • Other health and public services
  • health and social care
  • business
  • arts and media
  • retail
  • agriculture
  • transportation
  • science and maths
  • hospitality and catering
  • ICT
  • leisure and travel

Table 2:  Sector breakdown of respondents saying the majority of their apprentices are continuing with off-the-job training

Sector

Number of respondents who indicated this response

Percentage of respondents who indicated this response

Base

Percentage June 2020 survey

Construction

24

62%

39

28%

Manufacturing

31

72%

43

59%

Education

22

79%

28

74%

Engineering

47

82%

57

61%

Other sectors

91

84%

108

67%

All sectors

215

78%

275

62%

Source: Supporting table T3. Survey question:” Which of these categories apply to the majority of your apprentices?”

There is also variation by sector in the percentage of respondents saying most of their apprentices are furloughed, as shown in Table 3. Again, these differences should be interpreted with caution due to potential bias.

There is also variation by sector in the percentage of respondents saying most of their apprentices are furloughed, as shown in Table 3. Again, these differences should be interpreted with caution due to potential bias.

Table 3:  Sector breakdown of respondents saying the majority of their apprentices are furloughed

Sector

Number of respondents who indicated this response

Percentage of respondents who indicated this response

Base

Percentage June 2020 survey

Construction

5

13%

39

66%

Education

8

29%

28

23%

Engineering

7

12%

57

34%

Manufacturing

10

23%

43

45%

Other sectors

18

17%

108

19%

All sectors

48

17%

275

29%

Source: Supporting table T4. Survey question:” Which of these categories apply to the majority of your apprentices?”

Redundancy

Only 8% of respondents to this survey indicated an apprentice had been previously made redundant because of the impact of COVID-19. When asked to look forward to the next six months, 6% said they thought one or more of their apprentices would be made redundant. The responses to this question indicate a level of uncertainty when looking forward, with 21% saying they didn’t know whether apprentices would be made redundant in the next six months.

Table 4:  Previous and future potential apprentice redundancies

Response

Have any of your apprentices been made redundant because of the impact of COVID-19?

Do you think any of your apprentices will be made redundant in the next six months?

Yes

8%

6%

No

89%

73%

Don’t know

3%

21%

Total respondents

293

275

Source: Supporting tables T5 and T6. Survey questions: “Have any of your apprentices been made redundant because of the impact of COVID-19?” and “Do you think any of your apprentices will be made redundant in the next six months?”

Recruitment intentions

When asked to estimate recruitment over the next 12 months, 57% of respondents said they plan to recruit new employees as apprentices compared to 14% saying they would not. Again there was some uncertainty, with 29% saying they did not know.

Table 5: Recruitment of new employees as apprentices in the 12 months from September 2020

Response

Number of respondents who indicated this response

Percentage of respondents who indicated this response

Yes

195

57%

No

48

14%

Don’t know

97

29%

Total

340

100%

Source: Supporting table T7. Survey questions: “Do you plan to recruit apprentices as new employees in the 12 months from September 2020?”

Government support

The apprenticeship financial incentive payment is a new payment for employers in England for each new apprentice they hire between 1st August 2020 to 31st January 2021. The incentive is £2,000 for each new apprentice aged 16-24 or £1,500 for each new apprentice aged 25 or over.

Other support includes, but is not limited to:

  • Job Retention Bonus – a one-off payment of £1,000 to UK employers for every furloughed employee who remains continuously employed through to the end of January 2021
  • Kickstart Scheme – aimed at those aged 16-24 and at risk of long term employment. Funding available for each job will cover 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions
  • traineeships payment - the government will fund employers who provide trainees with work experience, at a rate of £1,000 per trainee
  • break-in learning - employers and training providers can initiate a break in learning to pause an apprenticeship, if the required learning or work experience cannot currently be delivered and where the interruption to learning due to coronavirus (COVID-19) is greater than 4 weeks

Responses indicate that awareness varies amongst these employers about the different government support available. The job retention bonus was the most well-known by the respondents, with 87% aware. This was followed by the apprenticeship incentive payment, with just over three-quarters of respondents being aware of this support. This was slightly higher than the awareness of the Kickstart scheme (67%), changes to the break-in learning rules (61%) and the traineeship incentive payment (59%).

The awareness levels of these employers should not be taken as telling of likely awareness among the wider employer population.  This is because the majority of respondents have worked with the Institute before and are likely to have a greater awareness of these interventions than the wider employer population.

Table 6: Awareness of government interventions

Response

Number of respondents who indicated this response

Percentage of respondents who indicated this response

Job Retention Bonus

296

87%

Apprenticeship incentive payment

265

78%

Kickstart Scheme

229

67%

Break-in learning where interruption of learning due to COVID-19 is over 4 weeks

206

61%

Traineeships incentive payment

200

59%

Total respondents

340

-

Source: Supporting table T8. Survey questions: “Before this survey were you aware of any of the following government interventions?”

Respondents who knew about the apprenticeship incentive payment were asked if they agreed with the following statement: “I feel confident that I understand the eligibility requirements for the new apprenticeship payments”. Of these 265 respondents, 83% agreed or strongly agreed they were confident, 11% neither agreed nor disagreed and 6% disagreed or strongly disagreed.

Table 7: Confidence with eligibility requirements of apprenticeship payment

Response

Number of respondents who indicated this response

Percentage of respondents who indicated this response

Strongly agree

91

34%

Agree

129

49%

Neither

29

11%

Disagree

11

4%

Strongly disagree

5

2%

Total

265

100%

Source: Supporting table T9. Survey question: "Do you agree with the following statements: 'I feel confident that I understand the eligibility requirements for the new apprenticeship payments'"

This same group of respondents, who were aware of the apprenticeship incentive payment, were asked if the financial incentives for employers would likely increase their recruitment of apprentices. The 75 respondents who were not aware of the payments before the survey were given a brief introduction to the support package and asked if the financial incentive might increase their recruitment of apprentices.

For those previously aware of the payment, 38% agreed or strongly agreed, 32% said they neither agreed nor disagreed and 30% disagreed or strongly disagreed that the payment would likely increase their recruitment.

Table 8: Impact of government support on recruitment plans in the next 12 months. Split by those aware or unaware of the apprenticeship payment before the survey.

Response

Aware: Likely increase in recruitment (percentage)

Unaware: Might increase recruitment (percentage)

Strongly agree

14%

32%

Agree

24%

32%

Neither

32%

17%

Disagree

19%

11%

Strongly disagree

11%

8%

Total respondents

265

75

Source: Supporting table T10 and 11. Survey questions: "Do you agree with the following statements: [for those previously aware of the payment] "Financial incentives for employers are likely to increase our recruitment of apprentices in the 12 months from September 2020", [for those previously unaware of the payment] "Financial incentives for employers might increase our recruitment of apprentices in the 12 months from September 2020"

Since the apprenticeship incentive payment is £500 more for apprentices under the age of 25, respondents were asked if they are likely to recruit younger people as apprentices. A quarter of respondents said they agree or strongly agree they would recruit younger people as a result of the additional incentive.

Table 9: The potential impact of a higher apprenticeship payment for people under the age of 25

Response

Number of respondents who said they are likely to recruit younger people

Percentage

Strongly agree

16

5%

Agree

58

20%

Neither

114

39%

Disagree

76

26%

Strongly disagree

29

10%

Total

293

100%

Source: Supporting table T12. Survey question: "Do you agree with the following statements: ‘My organisation is likely to recruit younger people as a result of the additional incentive for apprentices under the age of 25’”

Finally, respondents were asked to estimate how many more apprentices they would recruit because of the financial incentives. There were 249 responses to this question and the majority (61%) said the incentives would not be likely to increase apprentice recruitment. Around a quarter of respondents said they would recruit between one and four new apprentices. A small number of respondents said they estimated the increased recruitment would be over 50 new apprentices.

Table 10: The potential impact of financial incentives on apprenticeship recruitment

How many additional apprentices do you think you will recruit because of the financial incentives?

Number of respondents who indicated this response

Percentage of respondents who indicated this response

None

152

61%

1 to 4

61

24%

5 to 9

11

4%

10 to 49

16

6%

Over 50

9

4%

Respondents

249

100%

Source: Supporting table T13. Survey question: "How many additional apprentices do you think you will recruit because of the financial incentives?"

Next steps

Survey findings will be used by the Institute to inform COVID-19 work and this published summary will be shared with the Department for Education and Education and Skills Funding Agency.

The Institute intends to run more pulse surveys in future to gain further employer feedback about the support needed and challenges faced because of COVID-19.

For future pulse surveys, we will look at ways to improve the number of responses and representation. Since the June survey, there has been increased engagement with professional bodies in this research and this will continue for future surveys to try to reach more respondents across sectors.

Representation and bias

Findings from the pulse survey are unweighted and should be treated with caution when used to assess the impact of COVID-19 across the economy. Each response was given the same weight regardless of size, sector and the number of apprentices they have.

There are potential biases that could impact how representative the results are, including:

  • 64% of respondents had worked with the Institute before, so there is a bias towards employers known to the Institute
  • 81% of respondents said their organisation employed apprentices, so there is a bias towards employers with apprentices
  • there is a bias towards employers still in business and currently able to spend time filling out a survey
  • some sectors had more responses than others (see Figure 1) and this does not necessarily reflect the sector size in the economy
  • of the 340 respondents, 157 (46%) reported being part of a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) and 183 (54%) from a large business with over 250 employees

Figure one shows the engineering, construction and manufacturing sectors had the most responses in this survey, with just under half of the responses from these three sectors. Three sectors had under 5 responses: hospitality and catering, ICT, and leisure and travel.

Figure 1: Responses by sector

Source: Supporting table T1. Survey question: “Which best describes the sector of your organisation?”

In some of the tables, results are grouped as ‘other sectors’ to avoid disclosure of information about respondents, for example where the number of respondents is under five.

Even with the potential bias and small sample size, the survey gives a useful view of the experience of the 340 respondents.

These results should be treated with caution. They are not representative of all businesses due to the sampling methods.

 

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