A fund set up by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) to enable more local small and medium-sized businesses to take on apprentices and upskill their staff has hit a new milestone.
The WMCA set up the Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Fund to cover the costs of training apprentices at smaller businesses, through larger organisations donating their unspent levy.
The scheme has now created nearly 250 new apprenticeships at 100 small and medium-sized businesses across the region.
Businesses that are already benefiting from the fund include Wolverhampton firm Concero UK, where 11 apprentices are being trained for free. The company, which has 34 employees, provides specialist IT support and services to schools.
Director of business operations James Morris said: “The greatest benefit of the Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Fund to our business is that we’ve been able to recruit a number of younger staff, who have brought a new energy into the company that has enabled us to grow and develop.
“We’ve trained them in the latest technologies and put some of our existing workforce, who have been working for us for a number of years, through the apprenticeship scheme too. As a result, the business is growing and we’re expanding into different parts of the UK.”
Infrastructure technician Josh Sadler, aged 24, who is on a 18-month apprenticeship working towards a level 4 Network Engineer qualification with training provider Primary Goal, is one of the new apprentices who is benefiting from the levy transfer fund.
Josh said: “When I left school, I went straight into a job at a local butcher’s shop. But there wasn’t any progression and I wanted to have a career.
“The apprenticeship from Concero is a fantastic opportunity. It has given me the training and the qualifications to develop my career, together with the experience to implement what I’m learning. I go into schools daily to offer them IT support as a front-line technician.”
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Thanks to large organisations donating their unspent levy, we’re creating new job opportunities at smaller companies like Concero UK and also helping these businesses to upskill their existing workforce.
“We knew we could make a real difference to people’s lives in the region by reinvesting money in the West Midlands, which would otherwise have been lost to central Government, and using it to fund apprenticeship training at small to medium-sized businesses.
“The next step is to continue to get more firms to pledge their unspent levy so we can create more apprenticeship opportunities, benefiting both businesses and residents across the region.”
Coventry-based training provider Primary Goal supported Concero’s application for levy funding and is delivering the training for the 11 apprentices.
The apprenticeship levy is charged by HM Revenue and Customs on all businesses with a payroll of over £3 million. The levy money is held digitally by the Government, and businesses across the country can utilise the funds by paying for apprenticeship training and assessment costs by bringing in new talent or plugging skills gaps with their staff. After a two-year period, unspent levy contributions are ‘sunset’ and retained by the Government.
The £69m Skills Deal agreed with the Government in summer 2018 – the first of its kind in the country – set up the Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Fund by allowing the WMCA to partner large organisations with local small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This means the large employers donate a portion of their unspent apprenticeship levy funds to the smaller companies, covering 100% of their apprenticeship training and assessment costs.
This approach keeps levy money within the West Midlands region, boosting skills, job opportunities and productivity by supporting more young people and adults of all ages into work.
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