A scheme set up to fund apprenticeship training for small and medium businesses in the West Midlands has surpassed the £21 million milestone.
The Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Fund enables large employers to pledge unspent levy to fund the training of apprentices at SMEs, with 1,840 apprentices at 613 employers benefiting since it was launched.
The Apprentice Levy is charged by HM Revenue and Customs on all businesses with a payroll of more than £3 million and is held digitally by the Government.
Employers can use the funds to pay for apprenticeship training and assessment costs by bringing in new talent or plugging skills gaps within their staff but unspent levy contributions are ‘sunset’ and retained by the Government after two years.
The Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Fund was set up in 2018 by the West Midlands Combined Authority and keeps this unspent levy money within the region in order to boost skills and job opportunities here.
It was enabled as part of the £69 million Skills Deal agreed by the combined authority with the Government.
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said: “Even in these difficult times, we know there are still hundreds of apprenticeship opportunities in our region, with many of these in growth sectors such as digital and construction.
“Thanks to large organisations donating their unspent levy, we’re creating new job opportunities at companies which may otherwise have been unable to hire apprentices and equipping local people with the skills employers need.
“This applies particularly to young people who we know have been hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
“With National Apprenticeship Week starting today, it’s an ideal time for large employers in the West Midlands that haven’t spent all their apprenticeship levy, or SMEs thinking about taking on new apprentices, to get in touch with us and find out how we can help.”
Companies which have donated their unspent levy in the West Midlands include Lloyds Banking Group which pledged £3 million, one of the biggest contributions to date, builders’ merchant Buildbase, the RAC and University of Warwick.
Businesses that have benefited from the fund include IT recruitment and services firm Crimson which has developed an in-house apprenticeship training academy as a result of the levy transfer fund.
It now employs 100 staff at its base in Solihull, 22 of which are apprentices, and took home the Medium Employer of the Year category at our 2020 Birmingham Apprenticeship Awards.
Business analysis apprentice Mihai Iacob graduated in law but found it difficult to gain his first job in the sector so spent two years working in recruitment.
He said: “I was put on furlough last April and used the time to learn how to code.
“After two months, I decided to look for a job in the IT sector and I found the role at Crimson, starting with the company in September.
“My ambition is to become a highly skilled software developer. it’s been a fantastic journey so far and I’m looking forward to what comes next.”
Head of people development Cat Halstead added: “We have found that our apprentices bring innovation and creativity.
“They offer a completely fresh perspective and a new approach to solving business problems for our clients. They have also enabled us to solve our original challenge which was how to grow our business when facing a national digital skills gap.”