A scheme set up by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) to fund apprenticeship training for small businesses has supported 1,000 local people – helping the region’s economy to recover from Covid-19 by boosting jobs and skills.
More than 1,000 apprentices have now benefited from the Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Fund set up by the WMCA, in which large employers pledge their unspent levy to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the West Midlands.
Express parcel delivery firm DPD and Staffordshire County Council have become the latest employers to join the scheme, contributing more than £500,000 of their unspent apprenticeship levy.
A total of 1,084 apprentices and 315 SMEs have benefited from the scheme over the past 18 months.
The fund keeps levy money within the West Midlands, boosting skills, job opportunities and productivity by supporting more young people and adults of all ages into work.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “These are incredibly difficult economic times given the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but we must do all we can to continue to create local jobs for local people.
“Our apprenticeship levy transfer fund helps do exactly that, and by using unspent cash at bigger firms, smaller and medium-sized businesses have created more than 1,000 opportunities for local people. Not only do apprenticeships guarantee work and an income, but they also help people to increase their skills and their employability.
“It is therefore great news that DPD and Staffordshire County Council have pledged their support to the Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Fund, meaning more SMEs across the West Midlands will be able to create more local jobs.
“I would urge any business wanting to take on apprentices, or any individual looking for work, to get in touch with us and find out how we can help.”
Charged by HM Revenue and Customs on all businesses with a payroll of over £3 million, the levy is held by the Government for businesses across the country to utilise the funds to pay for apprenticeship training and assessment by bringing in new talent or plugging skills gaps with their staff. Any unspent levy is retained by the Government after a two-year period.
Today’s announcement follows the government’s introduction of payments for employers who hire new apprentices, making a new payment of £2,000 to employers in England for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, and a £1,500 payment for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over. In place from August 2020 to January 2021, these payments will be in addition to an existing £1,000 payment the government already provides for new 16-18 year-old apprentices.
The WMCA uses its strong local knowledge and relationships to identify large businesses that can donate unspent levy to SMEs through the Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Fund, covering 100% of their apprenticeship training and assessment costs.
Dwain McDonald, CEO of DPD, said: “We are fully committed to increasing our number of apprentices, including those for young people with special educational needs who we support through our Inspire programme.
“With over 4,300 staff in the West Midlands, we take our responsibility as one of the region’s largest employers very seriously and are fully supportive of the work the WMCA is doing to increase the number of apprenticeships. This is why we are proud to contribute more than £300,000 to the Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Fund.”
Cllr Philip White, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for economy and skills, said: “SMEs are the life-blood of our local economy, and we are committed to helping as many as possible to not just recover from Covid-19, but adapt and thrive in the future.
“As many businesses start to get back on their feet, now more than ever they need the right people with the right skills to invigorate their business, but the costs of training may be more than many can afford at the current time.
“By contributing more than £250,000 to the Apprenticeship Transfer Levy Fund we’re supporting more businesses across the county to give young people the chance they need, and a much-needed boost to their business. Investing in skills and training will be central to the county’s recovery from Covid-19.”
Cllr George Duggins, leader of Coventry City Council and WMCA portfolio holder for productivity and skills, added: “As we emerge from the Covid-19 shutdown, we must make sure our economic recovery is inclusive and works for everyone in the West Midlands. It’s great news that 1,000 local people have now benefited from the Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Fund.”
The WMCA is now calling on SMEs 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 remaining levy.
Throughout this week, the WMCA is holding a series of free virtual opportunities fairs to showcase a wide range of options for young people. This is part of the WMCA’s #WMStrong summer programme, which offers thousands of training courses, work placements and other upskilling opportunities to prepare young people for further education or employment. To book your place or watch the events afterwards, visit www.wmca.org.uk/wmstrong