Share to Support fund launched to create apprenticeships opportunities in the West of England

The Western Training Provider Network and the West of England Combined Authority are launching a new scheme to support apprenticeships. The Share to Support fund will support the recovery of smaller businesses in the region through skills support.

Between approximately £4m-£8m of investment in training each year is lost to the West of England and returned to the Treasury. Apprenticeship levy funds paid by employers expire after two years if not used. With over 45,000 businesses in the region, the campaign is calling for large employers across the West of England to pledge their unspent apprenticeship levy to support the recovery of small businesses.

Small businesses have been hit disproportionately by Covid-19. With unemployment rates at a five-year high, the fund will support job opportunities for individuals and ensure small businesses are supported to meet their skills gaps and maintain supply chains to larger companies in the region.

The new fund follows Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak’s announcement of additional apprenticeship support for businesses, including a £3,000 cash incentive per apprentice recruit.

Tim Bowles, Regional Mayor, said: “Backing our businesses with the skills they need to emerge strongly from the pandemic and protecting and securing well-paid jobs is at the heart of our plan for the region’s economic recovery. Apprenticeships are a key part of that, but around two-thirds of our small and medium businesses don’t think of using them. So I am trying to change that through our Workforce for the Future programme with the Western Training Provider Network.

“The Share to Support fund will help us to keep investment here in our region and enable more companies to benefit from the Apprenticeship Levy. This means more people have opportunities to develop the skills our businesses and employers need, now, and into the future.”

Alex Richards Director of the Western Training Provider Network said: “We are delighted that the Share to Support fund has been launched; we are experiencing a real d