Businesses urged to grab a share of £40m apprenticeship fund

Small and medium sized enterprises across the West Midlands are being encouraged to take advantage of a £40m fund to cover the cost of taking on apprentices.

Businesses that sign up to the West Midlands Combined Authority’s Apprenticeship Levy Transfer scheme will get 100% of the training and assessments costs covered so they can play their part in supporting local people onto the career ladder.

The £40m has been donated by larger businesses and the invitation to SMEs to grab their share comes as the UK marks National Apprenticeship Week. To date, just over 1,000 SMEs have used the WMCA initiative to take on apprentices, with more than 3,000 people being supported into work as a result.

The WMCA is aiming to use National Apprenticeship Week to highlight the importance of local employers taking on apprentices or training their existing workers into new roles. Employers who do this say they gain significant business benefits including increased productivity and the generation of new ideas, as well as securing future talent.

The WMCA is also using the national week to recognise the importance of their apprentices as Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA, today handed out certificates to 13 of their own apprentices. In turn, the region ultimately benefits from more job opportunities and a boost in skills and productivity.

The call to action is for SME’s who either currently have apprentices or those considering taking one on to secure future talent or upskill their existing workforce.

The cost savings can be used in a variety of ways but a number of employers have used the levy transfer to increase the number of apprentices in their workforce, with others increasing the apprenticeship wage to attract candidates to good jobs. Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, said:

“A key part of my mayoral mission is to ensure local people right across our region have the skills they need to succeed. Apprenticeships are central to that mission - offering a clear route into work for school leavers or graduates and career advancement for those already in work.

"We’re reminded of this more than ever during National Apprenticeship Week. That’s why I’m encouraging SMEs here in the West Midlands to get involved and sign up to take advantage of the millions of unspent Apprenticeship Levy funds generously donated by some of the region’s larger businesses to support the growth of local talent.”

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