Two schemes set up by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) are helping local people start a new career as police officers.
The Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Fund enables large employers to pledge their unspent levy to fund the training of apprentices at other employers in the West Midlands – boosting the region’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
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.
One of West Midlands Police's PCs, on patrol in Coventry
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’s ground-breaking partnership with large employers has now funded 75 new recruits at West Midlands Police to study police constable degree apprenticeships at Staffordshire University.
In addition, the WMCA funds retraining for local adults who want to start a new career in policing but don’t have the right qualifications. There are four different training routes, ranging from a six-week intensive programme, to 18 months’ study for a diploma.
Since September 2020, 74 people have been studying on one of these courses. This includes 22 people who will be able to apply to join the force later this year. All the training has been developed with the police, with officers going into college to help local people understand the practical skills and knowledge needed.
The training is being piloted at City of Wolverhampton College, and from May will be rolled out to eight other colleges in the West Midlands, enabling hundreds more local people to benefit.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Joining the police force requires specific training, and so I am really pleased that the WMCA has been able to help fund the training for nearly 150 local people to land their dream job as police officers.
“The pandemic has done great damage to our local economy and people’s livelihoods, which is why I’ve set out a plan to get 100,000 people into work in the next two years. Key to this will be equipping local people with the skills employers need – both now and in the future – and the levy transfer fund and our adult retraining programmes are enabling us to do exactly that. I hope all the police recruits we’ve supported through these schemes go on to have long and fulfilling careers with West Midlands Police.”
Cllr George Duggins, leader of Coventry City Council and WMCA portfolio holder for productivity and skills, added: “It’s great to see that we are supporting local people to get the skills they need to start a new career on the front line of the police force.”
David Jamieson, the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “This scheme will support the training of new officers. I’d particularly like to praise the strong work of Cllr Duggins who has led this agenda. Cllr Duggins has recognised that many people have the skills to be a police officer, but not all the required qualifications. This funding will help those people work towards their dream job in the police.”
Last month it was announced that a total of £21m had been pledged to the WMCA’s Apprenticeship Levy transfer scheme and to date, 1,840 apprentices at 613 small and medium-sized companies have benefited from the fund over the past two years.