The West Midlands Combined Authority’s (WMCA) drive to increase job and skills opportunities for local people has been boosted by figures showing a rise of more than 2,500 new apprenticeships created in the region.
The latest report from the Office for Data Analytics shows the number of apprenticeship starts grew by 2,540 to 31,750 across the West Midlands in 2018/19.
This is 8.7 per cent up on the previous year and nearly double the national increase of 4.7 per cent.
Apprenticeship starts increased in each of the three Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas: in Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP they grew by 10 per cent, Black Country LEP by 9.5 per cent and Coventry and Warwickshire by 4.6 per cent.
Julie Nugent, director of productivity and skills at the WMCA, said: “These figures show how our work to boost the region’s skills, job opportunities and productivity is making a positive difference to people’s lives.
“We set up the Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Fund to pay for training costs for apprentices at local small and medium-sized enterprises, as part of our Skills Deal with the Government last summer. Thanks to large organisations pledging their unspent apprenticeship levy, more companies are able to hire apprentices and upskill their existing staff. This has created more than 150 new apprenticeships across the region so far.
“The next step is to get more large firms to sign up so that we can create more job and skills opportunities, benefiting both businesses and residents across the region.”
Local people benefiting from the fund include Connor Lines, from Bromsgrove, who joined IT company Lansalot Limited in Redditch as an Infrastructure Technician apprentice.
Jay Rixon, operations manager at Lansalot, said: “We’re a small family business and there was no way we could afford to pay for apprentice training as well as their wages – so being able to get the training for free is brilliant. We used this opportunity to pay the apprentices more than the basic wage, giving them a really great start.
“Connor is our third apprentice – the previous two are now full-time staff – so we knew the benefits of having an apprentice but would not have been able to afford any of them without the levy funding.”
The apprenticeship levy is charged by HM Revenue and Customs on all businesses with a payroll over £3 million.
The Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Fund keeps levy money within the West Midlands region by enabling the WMCA to partner large organisations with local smaller companies. This means the large employers donate a portion of their unspent apprenticeship levy funds to the smaller businesses, covering 100% of their apprenticeship training and assessment costs.
So far, more than £5m has been contributed as a result of large organisations joining the WMCA partnership.
The WMCA is now calling on employers who may not have considered hiring apprentices to tap into the Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Fund. Large organisations are also being encouraged to get in touch to discuss transferring their unspent levy. For more information, visit www.wmca.org.uk/apprenticeship-levy or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Caption: Apprentice Connor Lines is pictured with Jay Rixon, operations manager at Lansalot