UKHospitality has called for the reform of the government’s apprenticeship levy, claiming the current system is “too inflexible”.

In a joint letter to the government with the British Retail Consortium, Recruitment and Employment Confederation and techUK, the trade bodies have criticised the government for “holding back investment” in training that is “vital to train the future workforce, provide better wages, increase productivity and boost economic growth”, The Times has reported.

They have called for a broader “skills” levy and for businesses to be able to spend their funds on a wider range of accredited courses.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said companies were struggling with the cost of doing business therefore needed to make sure that any investment they’re making is correctly targeted.

“[The current system] is too inflexible, too rigid and while we’ve got acute labour shortages on top of that, we’re having to do additional training to get people ready to go on apprenticeships, to be job-ready,” Nicholls said.

“We’re calling for a proportion of control over our levy funds to be able to make better use of it, to use it for short, sharp targeted interventions on training that are needed, particularly for bringing back those economically inactive over-50s, long-term unemployed [and] younger people who have not got jobs.”

The government introduced the apprenticeship levy in April 2017, which requires employers with an annual wage bill of more than £3m to pay 0.5% of payroll costs into a fund for training.