A new service detailing how private sector businesses can help small and medium enterprises (SMEs), access funding through the Apprenticeship Levy to create their own training and skills opportunities, is being launched by Leeds City Council in partnership with the Leeds Anchors Network.
The ‘Levy Match Leeds’ initiative aims to improve access for SMEs to any support and funds that are available for apprenticeship training costs through Levy Transfers. The fund now stands at £500,000, and the ambition is to grow this figure to £1m before the end of the year to assist the creation of over 200 new apprenticeships in the city.
The ‘Levy Match Leeds’ service aims to highlight the unspent funding that is available to SMEs, and to broker transfers to ensure that this money is reinvested in businesses across Leeds to assist their own skills and training programmes. The new dedicated ‘Levy Match Leeds’ website: https://www.levymatchleeds.co.uk/pages/about provides a range of information regarding the scheme and highlights the opportunities available in each sector of the economy. Dedicated staff are also available to provide support to SMEs wanting to create more apprenticeship training schemes.
By ensuring that as many levy payers as possible in the public and private sector are able to transfer any unspent funds to non-levy payers, this will provide SMEs with not only much needed support for their individual apprenticeship programmes and ambitions, but also negate the need to pay any co-investment costs.
Apprenticeships continue to be vital to bridging the skills gap and creating good quality employment opportunities that boost productivity. Over 6,600 people of all ages start an apprenticeship each year in Leeds and indications were that this number would grow as new apprenticeships standards offering a wider range of entry points into jobs, an increase in degree level qualifications and access to professional careers were introduced. However, the Covid-19 pandemic and the challenging economic climate has seen a fall in the number of people starting an apprenticeship in the city. The introduction of ‘Levy Match Leeds’ is one example of a range of work that is currently being undertaken by the council and partners to reverse this trend and provide the support that is required to provide more meaningful apprenticeships.
Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for learning, skills and employment said: “In what continues to be an extremely difficult economic climate due to coronavirus, we must ensure that every avenue and option to support the creation of jobs and apprenticeship opportunities continue to be maximised.
“We want every penny of this funding to be used to support apprenticeships in our city, and with that in mind, we are extremely keen that SMEs in Leeds are able to access funding that may be available from levy employers to support their own apprenticeship training programmes.
“Businesses and organisations can find out more about our service on the Levy Matching Leeds website and how to sign up.”