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The Power of Share to Support: Stories from SMEs and Apprentices Part 2

The 2017 apprenticeship reform and levy introduction created groundbreaking changes to the apprenticeship landscape, including employer designed programmes and the establishment of modern standards that offer progression opportunities up to degree level. However, one of the unintended consequences of these reforms was a downturn in SME engagement, potentially affecting young people and new career starters.

Apprenticeship levy share offers a transformative solution, encouraging more SMEs to actively participate in apprenticeships by providing funds for training and acting as an enabler for them to contribute to the development of their workforce and local talent. The profound impact of apprenticeship levy share was evident at our recent ‘Share to Support Celebratory Event’ held on the 10th May where the audience had the chance to hear real-life stories straight from the apprentices and businesses who have directly benefited from the scheme. You can read about how the Share to Support scheme has helped BPM Contracting Services and career changer, Rosa in our last post HERE.

Another highlight of the evening was hearing from Volunteer Manager, Alex Gabchoug and Level 3 Lead Adult Care Worker apprentice, Jo Green. Bristol Drugs Project (BDP) are a charity providing harm reduction and treatment services for people who are experiencing a negative relationship with drugs and/or alcohol. With 36 years of experience, their goal is to support people towards the changes they want to see in their lives no matter what they may be. By utilising the funds generated through large employer’s surplus levy, BDP has employed two cohorts of 6 apprentices over the last two years with training costs covered by Bristol City Council and Southern Co-op’s levy pledges. This has allowed them to build a skilled and confident workforce and continue the valuable work they’re doing in the city.

Alex Gabchoug had this to say: “The levy scheme [Share to Support] has enabled Bristol Drugs Project to offer our apprentices the opportunity to complete a Lead Adult Care Worker course, alongside on-the-job training.  Bristol Drugs Project recruits’ people with a history of lived experience of substance use, those who have been through the criminal justice system, and individuals who have little or no work history or qualifications. The scheme has proven to have enabled individuals to build on their confidence and skills, as well as giving them a purpose and a feeling of acceptance within our society. 90% of our apprentices go on to work in the support sector and have become valuable members of workforces and their communities.”

At the heart of apprenticeship levy share is the empowerment of apprentices themselves. Jo shared her inspiring journey, explaining how she overcame significant personal challenges (including a history of substance abuse and no prior work experience) to embark on an apprenticeship. With the support of the Share to Support scheme and Southern Co-op's levy gift, Jo has successfully completed her apprenticeship and now holds a permanent position at BDP. A testament to the life-changing opportunities apprenticeships can provide and how gifted levy supports SMEs to upskill the wider community. 

Alex and Jo stood in front of a screen showing a presentation whilst they speak to the audience
Alex & Jo from BDP at the Share to Support Event

If you’re a large employer and want to make a real difference by transforming unspent levy into local opportunity, read more about the Share to Support Scheme HERE and get in touch with our Apprenticeship Development Manager, Jane Yorke.

If you’re a small or medium sized business in the West of England and are interested in accessing fully funded apprenticeships, get in touch –


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