Pictured: OxLEP's Level 4 PR and Communications Apprentice, Sophie Laurie-Lynch, alongside OxLEP Chief Executive Nigel Tipple
The ‘Social Contract' is a major new £1.7million programme, led by OxLEP Skills, set to make a significant and positive impact on Oxfordshire's skills ambitions. As a major driver to ensure businesses ‘grow their own’ talent, the Social Contract is supporting apprenticeship levy-paying organisations in Oxfordshire to pledge unused levy to fund apprenticeship training for smaller organisations. This ensures that apprenticeship levy funds remain in the county to benefit local people and businesses.
OxLEP is leading the way – in partnership with the University of Oxford – with the first apprenticeship created through the Social Contract programme having resulted in a Level 4 PR and Communications Assistant apprenticeship opportunity within the OxLEP Skills team. The apprenticeship training is being funded by unused apprenticeship levy pledged by the University of Oxford.
The successful candidate for this apprenticeship opportunity was Sophie Laurie-Lynch, who joined OxLEP in December 2021 though the government’s Kickstart programme. Sophie plays an invaluable role in supporting the OxLEP Skills team with communications and events and within her role she designs and runs social media campaigns to promote local and national skills initiatives and opportunities – like her own. She also writes blogs and articles that help to showcase the benefits of apprenticeships to both employers and potential apprentices.
OxLEP is delighted to have been able to offer Sophie this opportunity to progress her career with us, while gaining invaluable workplace skills, knowledge and experience.
Sophie said: “I could not be more grateful for the opportunity I have been given with my apprenticeship – created from the University of Oxford’s levy transfer. It has given me so much opportunity to better my skills and I am extremely excited to see where this journey takes me.
“The Social Contract programme is opening up so many opportunities and I feel privileged to be a recipient.”
The University of Oxford Apprenticeships Team has – to date – committed to transferring over £1m of its unused apprenticeship levy funds, supporting 25 different organisations in the local community in 2021. They have made £100,000 available for local organisations to apply for via the government’s Apprenticeship Levy Pledge website.
Helen Johnson, Apprenticeship Manager at the University of Oxford, said: “The University approved the implementation of the Apprenticeship Strategy in 2021, showing our commitment to apprenticeships.
“One of the aims of this is to ensure that we are transferring the full 25% allowance of our annual levy to other organisations. We are delighted that we have so far committed to over £1.1 million of levy transfer to charities, health care, SMEs, women in tech, as well as organisations within our supply chain.
“We aim to make the process as simple as possible to encourage other organisations to transfer unspent levy to others.”
There are around 220 businesses in Oxfordshire that pay the apprenticeship levy, but are currently not utilising it. Engaging in the Social Contract programme and retaining levy funds locally will support vital skills growth across Oxfordshire and help employers develop talent pipelines and retain key skills within the county.
The Social Contract programme will also engage with young people who have experienced a disturbance in education or work opportunities through the pandemic, create opportunities for those who are clinically extremely vulnerable and support people over-50 affected by labour market issues or those ready and willing to engage in a new career path – but who are perhaps unaware as to how to go about this challenge.
The Social Contract programme is also fully-committed to enhancing social mobility for ethnic minority groups in Oxfordshire, developing effective pathways for them right across our business community.
So if, like the University of Oxford, you would like to pledge some of your apprenticeship levy to contribute to the retention of talent here in the county, or would like some support to employ an apprentice, OxLEP Skills are here to help!
Join OxLEP Skills’ mission to ‘grow your own’ talent here in Oxfordshire, while benefiting from some free support and advice for your organisation through our Social Contract programme.