In this blog, Sally Lucas, Executive Director at Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce Training which is one of the largest providers of apprenticeships and vocational training and development in the area, outlines the Apprenticeship Levy Funds available to support employers in Coventry and Warwickshire – and the changes which are coming in 2020.
"The Government is determined that they are in the driving seat, taking control of the skills agenda particularly around apprenticeships.
"The challenge this presents is the capacity of smaller employers to be able to navigate the apprenticeship systems because many larger businesses have a dedicated resource such as an apprenticeships manager but an SME doesn’t have that support.
"That is where organisations such as ourselves can help because we have the expertise and resource to provide support to smaller businesses to ensure employers of all sizes can engage with apprenticeships.
"This is going to be really important in 2020 when the Government expands apprenticeship digital accounts for employers as the channel through which apprenticeship funding will flow. All businesses will need to create an online account with the Government where apprenticeship funding will be managed.
"At Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber Training, we can put the wheels in motion to help businesses with this. We are promoting ourselves as the ‘go-to’ place to provide support for employers to guide them through the process to help them navigate the apprenticeship journey and help to break down any barriers to growth for businesses – especially SMEs – in Coventry and Warwickshire.
"We are also supporting smaller employers to access apprenticeship levy funding, where larger, levy paying businesses are donating unspent levy either directly to another employer or through the West Midlands Combined Authority’s Skills Fund. This benefits the region, enabling businesses to train new and existing staff with the right skills and knowledge to create economic wealth. Through apprenticeship levy transfers, employers can access 100 per cent of the costs for training and assessment, giving direct financial savings.
"Levy funding employers including Lloyds Bank, National Express and the University of Warwick are donating their unspent funds – instead of it being retained by the Government – to be used by SMEs who don’t currently pay the Apprenticeship Levy to be given help with funding to train apprentices.
"Coventry City Council has also launched a scheme regarding their unspent levy to support businesses and individuals who live and/or work in Coventry. Their aim is to keep apprenticeship levy funds within the city to support local people and local employers.
"Warwickshire County Council is also keen to make all apprenticeship funds reach as far as possible by supporting businesses and residents who would benefit greatly from such investment in its Apprenticeship Levy share programme to create apprenticeship support for businesses.
"At Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber Training, we are here to help businesses access apprenticeships in a simple and straightforward way.
"The latest figures for 2018/19 from the Office for Data Analytics show that apprenticeship starts in the Coventry and Warwickshire area grew by 4.6 per cent.
"We are also focusing on supporting young people to access apprenticeships with local businesses because we think it is important that new talent is given a chance to grow and shine as they enter the world of work for the first time. Young people are faced with making important career decisions when they leave school and college and we, at Chamber Training, want to ensure we create positive opportunities for this age group to encourage employers to add to their workforce and think about succession planning and junior talent.
"Apprenticeships over the last three years have been transformed. It isn’t just about securing qualifications – they are gaining experience of real-life and acquiring skills to make them an invaluable member of the team and develop their career in a more focused way.
"The whole of the apprenticeship arena has changed with the levy policy introduced by the Government but also the way in which apprenticeship are delivered has seen a radical change.
"For any help or advice, please send an email to email@example.com and we will come back to you."