Over half a million pounds-worth of unused apprenticeship levy has been made available to businesses in Oxfordshire – thanks to a major project led by OxLEP – helping companies to create vital new positions within their organisations.
The significant funding secured via a host of levy transfers – facilitated by OxLEP Skills’ Social Contract programme – form part of a wider programme of activity created to support the development of new jobs and talent within the local business community, following the Covid-19 pandemic.
The news means that OxLEP are well on the way to meeting a target of securing £1.7million-worth of levy transfers, which will further support small businesses in the county to invest in new apprenticeship and training opportunities.
Although Oxfordshire has a highly-skilled workforce, its competitive labour market makes it a challenging landscape for smaller businesses to find the right talent and skills as they grow.
By supporting the retention of levy payments locally, OxLEP are playing a proactive and vital role in supporting the ambitions of Oxfordshire companies across a variety of sectors.
And by facilitating levy payments within Oxfordshire, OxLEP’s work will support companies to develop key ‘talent pipelines’ and an adaptable workforce specific to its needs.
In terms of potential employees, the use of apprenticeship levy funding also helps to remove barriers to employment for many who are struggling to engage with the labour market in the county.
The £500,000 pledged to-date has been made possible by larger employers – subject to the apprenticeship levy across Oxfordshire – vowing to invest in apprentices by passing on their unused levy funds through the Social Contract programme, itself a £1.7million programme of activity launched in May last year by OxLEP Skills.
Funding for the Social Contract Programme was secured by OxLEP through the government’s Contain Outbreak Management Fund, via Oxfordshire County Council.
The growing list of employers who have already pledged some of their unused apprenticeship levy to the Social Contract programme include:
- The University of Oxford
- The River Learning Trust
- Paragon Customer Communications
- Jacobs Douwe Egberts
- Eynsham Partnership Academy
Sally Andreou – Skills Hub Manager at OxLEP – said: ‘’We are delighted to have passed the £500,000 mark and to see so many levy paying businesses in Oxfordshire already pledge their unused funds.
“As a result of these employers leading the way, apprenticeships across the county are now being supported and made available to more people of all ages and backgrounds.
“Our work over many years – helping businesses to understand the power and opportunities created by apprenticeships – has demonstrated the potential they have and how they can genuinely transform our economy. They create jobs and tackle talent shortages by developing much-needed skills.
‘’We encourage all eligible businesses in Oxfordshire who are not making use of their apprenticeship levy to find out about our Social Contract programme and how they can pledge their unused funds today.
“Together we can create a thriving economy in Oxfordshire and many more opportunities too.’’
The apprenticeship levy is paid by large UK employers who have an annual pay bill of around £3 million or more. Businesses can choose to transfer up to 25% of their levy funds each year to help other small companies pay for their apprenticeship training.
One of the many small organisations in Oxfordshire benefiting from the levy transfer scheme is foundry company Priory Cast Products.
Thanks to the scheme Priory Cast Products were able to grow its existing workforce, teaching the traditional craft trade to the next generation, safeguarding the industry and craft for the future.
Other sectors supported via levy transfer funding secured by OxLEP Skills include; apprenticeships in; GP surgeries, hospices, primary education, nursing, planning, sports coaching and communications.