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10 Mar 2020

Three big employers join WMCA scheme to boost apprenticeships at small companies

Three large employers are boosting apprenticeships at smaller businesses through the Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Fund set up by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

International property and infrastructure group Lendlease, recruitment company Pertemps and BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK are the latest big employers to pledge their unspent apprenticeship levy to the transfer fund.

The WMCA set up the Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Fund to cover the costs of training apprentices at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the West Midlands.

The scheme has now created 300 new apprenticeships at 139 small and medium-sized businesses across the region.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands and former managing director of John Lewis, said:

“The success of the levy transfer fund depends on contributions from big employers, so it’s brilliant news that Lendlease, Pertemps and BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK are funding apprenticeship training at smaller organisations.

“This means we’re creating new job opportunities at companies who may otherwise have been unable to afford to hire apprentices, and also helping them to upskill their existing workforce.

“The next step is for us 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.”

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 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 companies have pledged a combined total of nearly £200,000 over one year.

Paul King, managing director for sustainability at Lendlease, said:

“Apprenticeships are a great path into construction for all ages, and at Lendlease we are keen to do all we can to help provide local people with the skills that will help build an even stronger supply chain.”

Tracy Evans, group HR and quality director for Pertemps, said:

“As a recruitment solutions provider which supports business across the West Midlands and throughout the UK, we are more than familiar with the many skills gaps that continue to present challenges to certain industries.

“One way of addressing this issue is to create more opportunities for people to develop the skills and experiences required to enjoy careers that contribute to wider prosperity. Our investment will mean SMEs can create more apprenticeships that will not only benefit their own business, but contribute to the bigger picture of growing the West Midlands region.”

Vicky Waters, head of talent, careers and development at BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK, said:

“At BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK, we’re passionate about providing opportunities for young people in our region and beyond.

“For those looking for an alternative to higher education, apprenticeships are a great way into the workplace – allowing them to gain valuable experience while learning new skills at same time.

“By supporting SMEs in the region through the Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Fund, we hope to help increase the number of opportunities for local people across the West Midlands, and we’re so excited to see the difference this makes, both to apprentices and the businesses they’ll be working with.”

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 apprenticeships@wmca.org.uk 

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