Large employers in Cornwall are being urged to use any unspent Apprenticeship Levy to help local small businesses bounce back after coronavirus.
Companies with a wage bill over £3m a year pay a monthly levy they can use to fund their own apprenticeship training. But after two years any unspent funds go to the Treasury and into the national UK apprenticeship pot.
Large employers have the option to transfer up to 25% of their annual levy to fund training in smaller companies in the region instead, and this could be worth around £1m a year in Cornwall.
Now the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Cornwall Apprenticeships, which promotes the value of apprenticeships to small businesses, are surveying Cornwall’s large employers.
They want to find out how they are using their levy and whether there would be demand for a local brokerage service to help them support smaller local businesses with levy transfer.
Frances Brennan, chair of the LEP’s Employment and Skills Board, said: “We know that around £1m a year could potentially be available for levy transfers in Cornwall and that money will go back into the national pot if it’s not spent here.
“So we’re encouraging large employers to use the full potential of their levy by passing on a proportion of it to help smaller local employers pay for their apprenticeship training costs. This is money they pay anyway, and if they can’t spend it all on their own training needs, then we would much rather see any surplus spent locally with other businesses to support the Cornish economy and apprentices, including young people.”
Cathie Kessell, employment and apprenticeship officer at the LEP, added: “Some employers are already making their own levy transfer arrangements which is great, but many more aren’t.
“Levy transfers can be a great way for large employers to strengthen their own supply chains by helping small businesses to upskill their staff. £1m would go a very long way with SMEs trying to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, so we are urging large employers to take our survey so we can find out more about how they use their Apprenticeship Levy.”
Kim Conchie, Chief Executive of Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, said: “As the accredited Chamber of Commerce for a region made up largely of SMEs and micro-businesses, we know that the Government’s Apprenticeship Levy has never made the wide impact here that was hoped. This opportunity for large employers to share the levy payments with their suppliers and small businesses around them, is a fantastic opportunity to collaborate, strengthen local relationships and increase the uptake of apprentices by smaller organisations. We’re urging Cornwall’s large employers to get involved and take part in this survey.”
The survey, which takes only a few minutes to fill out, is aimed at businesses with an annual payroll of £3m or more and is available here. To find out more about apprenticeships visit the Cornwall Apprenticeships website.