SMEs in Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent are set to benefit from new investment in apprenticeship schemes.
The news comes after Stoke on Trent College successfully secured over £1million in government funding to provide apprenticeships to employers with an annual pay bill below £3million.
The new funding allocation, known as the non-levy apprenticeship budget, means that Stoke on Trent College is currently the only college in Stoke and North Staffordshire to be approved to deliver non-levy apprenticeships in addition to levy-funded training, with a total combined £1.95 million funding package for the region’s employers.
The apprenticeship levy was introduced by the government in April 2017 in a drive to create three million apprenticeships by 2020 with greater employer involvement.
This has seen apprenticeship funding across Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent be delivered in one of two ways.
Firstly, companies with an annual payroll bill in excess of £3million per annum pay an apprenticeship levy of 0.5% of their annual pay budget, which can then be re-invested by the company in apprenticeship schemes for new employees or to upskill existing staff moving into new job roles.
Then, in late December, the government announced the list of training providers who successfully bid for a further new ‘non-levy’ apprenticeship fund.
This can be utilised by companies with a pay bill below the £3million threshold to cover 90% of apprenticeship delivery costs - with Stoke on Trent College successfully tendering as a provider on the list.
Stoke on Trent College already delivers apprenticeships for some of the region’s top employers including University Hospitals of North Midlands, BET365, Choices Housing Association, Port Vale FC Community Trust, Stoke City FC, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, BT, Ornua Foods,
Speaking about what this means for the area’s businesses, Kevin Smith, director of apprenticeships at Stoke on Trent College, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have secured this vital funding to support local businesses and economic development here in the region.”
“This new funding allocation will enable businesses to create new job opportunities and upskill existing staff, with 90% of the cost of their apprenticeship training being government funded where their pay bill is under £3million.”
Mr Smith says that it is vital that local employers of all sizes know about the funding and the vast range of apprenticeships on offer.
He says: “The apprenticeships model continues to evolve. Most people might be surprised to know, for example, that BT’s higher apprentice employees from across the UK travel to Stoke on Trent College once every month to complete residential study blocks for Foundation Degrees in ICT, through our partnership with Staffordshire University.
“We are proud to work with more than 730 employers of all sizes, training apprentices in the engineering, manufacturing, gas, electrical, plumbing and IT support sectors, as well as in the NHS and emergency services, plus industries ranging from professional services to hair and beauty, childcare and sport.”
“Whether you’re one of the area’s new businesses, a growing business or a household name, the funding and the apprenticeships programmes are available to help develop the next generation of skilled professionals, as well as to upskill your existing workers.”