To mark the start of National Apprenticeship Week, (6 February) OxLEP Skills has launched a new campaign to help Oxfordshire business unlock the door to local opportunities and talent.
The ‘door to more’ campaign aims to raise awareness of the support and schemes available to business accessing and unlocking currently unused funds to make more apprenticeships possible. It encourages Oxfordshire-based organisations to open their doors to apprenticeships to create jobs and develop specialist industry skills and talent to help strengthen the local economy.
To support its Social Contract programme – a £1.7million programme of activity launched last year – OxLEP Skills is calling out to the over 220 Oxfordshire-based businesses currently paying an apprenticeship levy to either utilise it for their own training programmes or to supporting Oxfordshire SMEs through a levy transfer.
Since the launch of the programme in May 2022, over £270,000 has been pledged in levy transfers in Oxfordshire, with a target to unlock £1.3 million in unused levy, to make more apprenticeships possible.
Oxfordshire has traditionally had a tight labour market with low unemployment, making it a challenging landscape for businesses to find the right talent and skills as they grow.
By retaining levy payments locally, employers can support the pipeline of talent and skills growth in their sector while removing barriers to employment for individuals who may otherwise not have been able to consider certain roles.
Another initiative made available to the county’s business community through the campaign is the Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Grant Scheme.
The scheme is enabling employers to apply for a grant of up to £1,500 (or up to £3,000 in exceptional circumstances) on behalf of their apprentice – who must be Oxfordshire-based – to support their training through non-statutory items.
Businesses applying for the grant have used them on a variety of items including travel permits, IT equipment, driving lessons and an apprentice’s industry rated tools.
Sally Andreou, Skills Hub Manager at OxLEP, said: “We want to make apprenticeships and other vocational pathways available to more people in Oxfordshire, and encourage business not currently making use of their apprenticeship levy to do so.
“Our region is the UK’s engine for innovation, research and development, driving exciting and dynamic projects from start-ups to international success stories, and it is critical we develop and nourish a pipeline of home-grown talent for the future.
“We know apprenticeships have a huge positive impact on the local and national economy and encourage all business, whether you are a levy payer or need funding, to explore the options available and get involved.”