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Local apprenticeship funding support scheme launched to help small businesses grow

Small businesses across the West of England are growing their teams through apprenticeships, thanks to a free impartial expert advice service and a share to support scheme, which covers the costs of apprentice’s training. With over 600 apprenticeship standards now available across a range of sectors, businesses are using the support scheme and the government’s £3k apprenticeship incentive to grow their workforce.

Apprenticeships explained

Apprenticeships are an exciting option for both apprentice and employer. You can employ apprentices at different levels, from school leavers and university graduates, to people who want to further their careers or change career direction completely. You can hire someone new or upskill an existing employee with relevant training and qualifications. 86% of employers said apprenticeships helped them develop skills relevant to their organisation.

Share to Support Apprenticeship Scheme 

The Share to Support scheme allows large employers to ‘gift’ apprenticeship funding to smaller businesses to pay for the apprentice’s training costs. Run by the West of England Combined Authority and Western Training Provider Network, the scheme aims to keep training funds local and support the growth and recovery of small businesses in the West of England.

From 2017, large companies whose wage bill is over £3 million per year (usually around 250+ members of staff) are required to pay an ‘apprenticeship levy’ to HMRC. This money can then be used to take on apprentices or upskill existing employees. Companies have 24 months in which to spend this levy money. The Share to Support Scheme has been set up so that those larger employers can gift this money to SMEs, helping them cover the cost of hiring apprentices/upskilling current members of staff. Contact Levy Share Manager, Steve Gale if you would like further information.

How much will I have to pay for an apprentice?

As an SME, you qualify for Government grants to cover some of your apprenticeship costs. If your apprentice is aged between16- 18 years old or 19-24 with an education, health and care plan (EHCP) the Government will cover the full cost of the apprenticeship. If your apprentice is over18, you will need to pay 5% of the apprenticeship cost, with the Government contributing the other 95%.

Gem Security Ltd 

We spoke to Gem Security Systems Ltd, a Bristol based SME which is using the Share to Support apprenticeship transfer scheme to recruit a customer service apprentice. Apprentices are crucial to our business as trained locksmiths are not readily available on the market, so we have to grow our own. I am convinced that the future success of the business is dependent on the successful recruiting and development of apprentices.

Through the Share to Support scheme Gem Security Systems were connected with Bristol City Council which gifted £3,500 to cover the costs of the apprentice’s training. The business will also receive a £3,000 grant from the government for taking on a new apprentice.

Phil Edmonds, Managing Director of Gem Security Systems, said: “We were made aware of the Share to Support levy scheme through the West of England Apprenticeship service and were linked up with Bristol City Council. As a growing business, being able to fund our apprentice’s training costs has been a big help. We’re looking forward to accessing more funding support from the scheme in the future.”

The scheme is being promoted as part of the Metro Mayor’s Job and Skills Summit which took place last week. Dan Norris, Mayor of the West of England, visited the business to meet its new apprentices and hear how the company had accessed funding support. Read the full article here.

If you’re interested in finding out more about apprenticeship funding support, or would like support with recruiting an apprentice get in touch at

How Business West can help your company onboard apprentices

Our specialist skills team offer free impartial apprenticeship advice to businesses of all sizes.

We can answer any questions you have and we’ll connect you with local and national training providers to make it easy for your business to get all of the apprenticeship support it needs. Find out more here.

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