An innovative scheme set up by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) to fund apprenticeship training for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is within touching distance of its £40m target.
The region’s Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Scheme now stands at £39.6m and the WMCA has launched a fresh push to get even more SMEs to take advantage of it through its levy donor delivery partners.
By reducing the costs of training, it enables the employers to consider hiring more apprentices or use the saving to pay a better apprenticeship wage to attract future talent into the business.
The push was announced at the recent Movement To Work Summit, an event held in Birmingham to offer business leaders an opportunity to listen to young people and understand the barriers that they face in securing good jobs.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA, said: “In my time as Mayor, I’m particularly proud of the ground-breaking work the WMCA has done as part of the Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Scheme. With nearly £40m being donated by bigger businesses to support the growth in talent at SMEs across the region, we’re making big strides to grow youth employment and I would encourage all large employers across the West Midlands to get involved and donate their unspent levy and SMEs to take advantage of it.”
Presenting at the event was David Gaughan, Head of Employer Services at the WMCA, who said: “The Youth Summit provided us with a fantastic opportunity to collectively understand the barriers young people face in finding good work especially in the current cost of living crisis. Through the Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Scheme we can support employers by reducing the costs of training, and through this saving employers could look to re-invest this in putting it towards paying good apprenticeship wages to attract future talent’
Originally set up in March 2019, The Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Fund allows some of the UK's biggest businesses to cover 100% of the training cost of apprentices for SMEs by donating their unspent levy to the WMCA rather than see it returned to government. In turn, the region ultimately benefits from more job opportunities and a boost in skills and productivity.
The apprenticeship levy is charged by HM Revenue and Customers and held centrally by government. Businesses across the country can apply for funding to pay up to 95% of the costs of training their apprentices. Unspent contributions are ‘sunset' and retained by government after a two-year period.
Under the WMCA's deal, regional organisations can transfer their unspent levy to the combined authority's fund - keeping the money within the region and avoiding the risk of it being sunset.
Councillor George Duggins, WMCA portfolio holder for productivity and skills, and leader of Coventry City Council, added: “This is a fantastic milestone, and it is great to see so many big businesses get involved to help local businesses grow fresh talent through apprenticeship opportunities. Donating unspent levy can make a real difference in the lives of young people and those starting a new career, as well allow businesses to upskill their existing staff with apprenticeship qualifications.”
Businesses wishing to register their interest in the West Midlands Apprentice Levy Fund can sign up for more information at: https://www.wmca.org.uk/what-we-do/productivity-skills/apprenticeship-levy-fund/.