Lancashire’s leading employers are being urged to share their unused Apprenticeship Levy funds with local companies to help bridge skills gaps and seize the economic benefits of training.
The plea for collaboration from local accountancy firm Pierce, comes as the first tranche of payments dating from the scheme’s introduction in April 2017, are set to expire in April 2019.
Companies that have not made full use of their Apprenticeship Levy credits, are also now able to transfer funds to any business whether they are operating either locally, in their supply chain or within their broader industry.
Currently, employers can transfer a total of 10% of their annual funds to as many businesses as they wish, with the amount increasing to 25% from April. Both companies need to be registered with the apprenticeship service in order to transfer or receive the funds.
The option of transferring funds was introduced following the lack of uptake to the levy. Last year, it was announced that 92% of the funds were not spent in the first year of the scheme.
Lisa Kennery at Pierce said: “The Apprenticeship Levy is a fantastic initiative but various complexities mean that not all companies are taking full advantage of it. Simply by collaborating locally and regionally to share money that is set to be lost anyway however Lancashire firms have a unique opportunity to spread the immense benefits of training and upskilling.
“Right now in our region, there are skills shortages in construction, engineering, manufacturing, IT, logistics and many more specialisms. The Apprenticeship Levy offers an excellent opportunity to get our regional workforce trained and upskilled, and our businesses poised to unlock future growth and investement.
“Lancashire is famed for its friendly, open way of doing business, so it would be fantastic if we could show the rest of the UK just how well we collaborate by using this opportunity to plug as many regional skills gaps and creating as many jobs as possible.
“SME’s account for 60% of all private sector employment in the UK, so the opportunity to transfer funds will not only add fuel to regional growth by stimulating all areas of the supply chain – it will enable smaller firms to offer apprenticeship schemes, or upskill existing staff.
“This will allow many more people in the local community to enhance their careers through training.”