Published date 3 February 2022

Learning new skills with National Apprenticeships Week  

Metro Mayor Dan Norris chatting with workers/ apprentices

People of all ages can pick up new skills to boost their career prospects with the help of events planned for National Apprenticeships Week (7 to 13 February 2022). 

More than 57residents have already gained valuable apprenticeships with employers across the region, thanks to pioneering schemes from the West of England Combined Authority and Western Training Providers Network (WTPN). 

Over a million pounds has been pledged so far to help people across the West of England develop new skills through apprenticeships. This money is now available to support training costs for small businesses to take on new apprentices or develop the skills and prospects of existing members of staff through apprenticeship training.  

The money has been pledged to the region’s Share to Support scheme, which is run by the West of England Combined Authority and The Western Training Provider Network. Apprentice-levy paying employers can pass on their unused levy funds so that more apprenticeships can be created for local people. Nationally, it is estimated that between £4m and £8m of unused levy funds are returned to the Treasury each year.   

West of England Metro Mayor Dan Norris

Dan Norris, West of England Metro Mayor:

“This national apprentice week is a great opportunity to celebrate West of England residents of all ages who are gaining new skills or starting a brand new career altogether. When I held my jobs and skills summit, I met many local mechanics, locksmiths, electricians, healthcare workers and more, all of whom were earning while learning to gain the know-how needed for skilled jobs.

“I’m determined to maximise apprentice opportunities. That’s why I am proud of the Combined Authority scheme to keep West of England training money where it belongs – in the West of England. So far 57 more local people have gained vital new skills thanks to this cash and more are signing up this month.”

As part of National Apprenticeships Week, WTPN is holding a live Q&A session offering expert advice and insight to anyone who wants to learn more about apprenticeships; including employers, managers, parents, teachers and applicants. On hand with the panel of experts will be Louise Punt from Bath-based small business Anthem Publishing and their two new apprentices Ella and Molly, who will speak about their experiences. To register for the Zoom session please click on the booking link.  

WTPN is also visiting schools around the West of England to speak with pupils about the opportunities available to them through apprenticeships.  

Alex Richards, Director of the Western Training Provider Network:

“Apprenticeships offer our residents long-term, in-depth training designed by employers that support the creation and adoption of new knowledge, skills and behaviours. These industry leading training programmes create pathways into new careers, develop skills to boost career prospects within a business and even help residents switch careers.

“Apprenticeships have been dramatically modernised in the last few years and we are delighted to celebrate their success in National Apprenticeship Week. Without a doubt the investment from the Combined Authority is making a real difference to many people’s lives, especially young people starting out on in employment for the 1st time. We are proud to be running this initiative for the region.”

The Share to Support scheme is open to small businesses, based in the West of England and also supports businesses looking to progress their trainees or kickstarts onto an apprenticeship. The apprenticeship fund is being delivered as part of the West of England Combined Authority’s Workforce for the Future Programme, co-funded by the European Social Fund. 

Employers can pledge their unspent apprenticeship levy or find out how to get support with apprenticeships by visiting: www.wtpn.org.uk/apprenticeship-levy-transfer.

More than 21small businesses across the West of England have already drawn £474,000 from the Share to Support fund to both grow and upskill their teams through apprenticeships, and another 17 businesses have received support to hire apprentices directly through the WTPN’s ‘workforce for the future’ West of England Combined Authority funded SME service. 

Weston-Super-Mare business Safe Digging Ltd received £9,000 from GKN Aerospace’s apprenticeship levy via Share to Support. Their surveying apprentice Bradley started working with them in September 2021 and has impressed the team with how well he’s doing so far. 

Jeff Parslow, Safe Digging’s Surveying Director:

Throughout the entire process we have been supported fully. Any questions or concerns have been answered within a very quick time scale and as a small company we have had complete faith in the service and what is being delivered is very professional.”

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