Apprenticeship Levy changes will help plug skills gap, says WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff

Apprenticeship Levy changes will help plug skills gap, says WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff

Birmingham professional services consultancy WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, has spoken out about the imminent introduction of the new Apprenticeship Levy by the Department for Education, claiming this will go a long way to addressing skills shortages in many sectors, and is an excellent opportunity for employers and young people.

The firm will be sharing insights into maximising the Apprenticeship Levy, ahead of changes being introduced by the DfE in April, at the Managing Apprentices event being held by the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce on 9 Feb, at the Harvestfields Centre in Sutton Coldfield.

Paul Thomas, director at WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, who is presenting at the event, said: “The changes by the DfE are unprecedented and offer great advantages for businesses and aspiring young engineers alike. The new rules mean that the levy can be used to fund the tuition fees from Level 2 up to Degree or Masters level, provided the training provider is on the DfE approved list.

“Those individuals for whom the prospect of rising tuition fees may have presented a barrier will now have an option to choose a different route to pursue their chosen career. For businesses operating in sectors where skills shortages are a reality or a future threat, this scheme offers a real solution,” he added.

WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff is committed to helping to address the skills shortage in engineering, doubling its apprenticeship intake nationally and taking on an additional five apprentices in the last year at the Queen’s Drive-based consultancy (bringing the total number over the last four years to 15). One of these is Trelawney Cooper, an apprentice working in the firm’s building services business for the last six months.

He said: “I wasn’t keen on doing A levels following school - I wanted to be surrounded by knowledge that would benefit me more in the world of work. Another key factor which pushed me towards choosing an apprenticeship was the experience: when applying for jobs employers always ask for experience, which is difficult to get if going down the traditional academic route. I prefer to learn on the job, and of course earning money whilst doing this is an added bonus! 

Trelawney added: “Some sort of design engineering role appealed to me, following an introduction to this at school, but on securing an interview at WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff I was successful in gaining an apprenticeship in building services and was delighted. My role means that I use various pieces of industry software to design both mechanical and electrical aspects of a building, and I integrate with small teams daily to co-ordinate the different areas of a project. My aspiration is to become a qualified building services engineer.”

The levy comes into effect in April 2017. Any apprentices taken on from 1 May 2017 will be subject to the new rules.