Published date 23 February 2023

Skills boost: up to £3 million pledged for West of England apprenticeships

Dan Norris meeting B&Q employees

Up to £3 million has now been pledged to help people across the West of England develop new skills through apprenticeships.

The UK’s leading home improvement retailer B&Q has joined the growing list of big West of England employers who have pledged to invest in apprentices by joining the “Share to Support” scheme run by the West of England Combined Authority and The Western Training Provider Network. The scheme sees apprentice-levy paying employers passing on their unused levy funds so that more apprenticeships can be created by small employers – a boon for the West.

B&Q has pledged £1 million to support small businesses right across the West of England, and Solent, regions to take on new apprentices or develop the skills and prospects of existing members of staff through apprenticeship training.

This means to date, up to £3 million has now been pledged to the West of England’s ‘Share to Support’ scheme while 216 new apprentices have been taken on already - with more on the way.

Metro Mayor Dan Norris said: “It was great to meet apprentices today. Thank you to B&Q for signing up to the West of England Share to Support scheme so that cash raised for apprenticeship training in the West stays in the West. This mega cash pledge will be put to excellent use here, helping equip local people right across our region with the skills they need. But I want us to go further. I encourage more West of England firms to step forward and help us train up even more locals and share prosperity and opportunities for all.”

Cat Willis, Apprenticeship Specialist at B&Q said: “Apprenticeships are really important to B&Q, with hundreds of our colleagues at all levels currently working towards theirs and another 250 graduating earlier this month. We’re really proud to be supporting the West of England Apprenticeship Service and to give even more people the opportunity to build their skills, knowledge and behaviours in order to support their career journey.”

Leon Fisher, Apprenticeship Hub Manager at WTPN said: “We are absolutely delighted that we will be supporting B&Q share their apprenticeship levy within the West of England region. Their generous pledge will enable us help more locally based SMEs and residents engage with apprenticeships.”

The Home Improvement giant joins other large employers who have already pledged to the Share to Support fund, including GKN and the Southern Co-op. Employers can pledge their unspent apprenticeship levy on their website .

The Share to Support Scheme is part of The Workforce for the Future Programme, funded by the West of England Combined Authority and European Social Fund

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