Newham Council has partnered with Newham College London to put its community wealth building ambitions into practice and give residents more opportunities to start an apprenticeship.
The Council and College have begun a 12-month pilot Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Scheme whereby a percentage of the Council’s unspent levy can be used by small-to-medium-size enterprises (SMEs) who wish to train apprentices via the College and its subsidiary company Digital Skills Solutions.
Since the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy by the Government in April 2017, Newham Council has had to pay 0.5 per cent every month of its total payroll costs into a levy pot held by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. If after two years all the money is not used by the Council to train apprentices, it is swallowed up by the Treasury.
To reduce this waste, the new scheme will see the Council transfer up to 25 per cent of its apprenticeship levy account to support apprenticeship engagement with Newham businesses and residents. This will enable participating SMEs to access apprenticeship training at no direct cost to their business and create more apprenticeship opportunities for Newham residents.
The College is already helping to broker apprenticeships with local businesses and reduce the administrative burden on those who wish to take on an apprentice. Apprenticeships on offer include those in the fields of business and administration, catering and hospitality, construction, digital, education and childcare, engineering and manufacturing, health and science, finance and accountancy, and sales, marketing and procurement.
The Council has also recently overhauled its own apprenticeship scheme, expanding it to offer 30 places to local residents under the age of 30, with three places ring-fenced for those leaving care. All contracts are paid the London Living Wage and are centrally funded as a corporate priority.
Councillor Steve Brayshaw, Newham Council’s Commissioner for Skills, told local businesses about the new scheme during a Newham Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting in Stratford today. He said: “We want to use our levy to ensure local businesses can develop staff skills and attract new talent. And we want as many local residents as possible to have access to good quality employment pathways. This is community wealth building in action – using our own funds as both a local authority and employer for the benefit of residents, as well as our business community.”
Paul Stephen, principal and chief executive of Newham College London, said: “We’re proud to be working with the most progressive council in London, and one which is making positive use of its unspent apprenticeship levy. We are committed to make this a win-win for everyone – for local residents to take up an apprenticeship; for local businesses to get the apprenticeship training cost directly subsidised by the Council; and for the Council to give an early example of community wealth building in practice.
“It’s also really important for the College as the funding we can draw down to train apprentices is limited by funding caps. Newham Council’s innovation, creativity and partnership working means we can support even more local residents on their journey to great careers.”
Carlos Cubillo-Barsi, managing director of Digital Skills Solutions, who will operate the apprenticeship brokerage service for the College, said: “It’s a privilege to be working in partnership to launch this ground-breaking initiative.
“We know the fantastic benefits that apprenticeships can deliver in terms of developing new talent and providing access to great careers. The Council’s foresight and leadership in sharing their levy funding ensures that Newham-based businesses and residents have every opportunity to take full advantage of the training that is available.”