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#Apprenticeship and training: Solutions to closing the regional skills gaps 

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DAMIAN Burdin, Chief Executive Officer at Progress to Excellence Ltd, is among high profile business leaders who have the Liverpool City Region’s skills gaps at the top of their agenda.

He will be sharing a platform with Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram to examine how sector specific training and recruitment can not only narrow these gaps but also reach career aspirations of the next generation workforce.

Joining them at the Wirral Chamber of Commerce In Business event, being held in Birkenhead on Thursday, February 28, will be other panellists working in a cross-section of disciplines in the region’s industry and commerce.

Andy Snell, Head of Strategic Partnerships at Wirral Chamber, said: “Specific areas for growth in Liverpool City Region have already been identified and include the maritime, energy, manufacturing, health and visitor economy sectors.

“With staff recruitment and retention becoming prominent issues for many businesses, we will be looking at, and discussing, how a sector specific approach here can help to plug skills shortages while at the same time helping businesses to grow.”

Damian will also be available at the end of the session for one-to-one discussions with delegates. Particular focus here will be on developing vital skills via apprenticeships and – most importantly – using any unspent training funds from the Apprenticeship Levy before the “use it or lose it” deadline in a few weeks’ time.

He said: “Currently employers are facing immense challenges, particularly in the Liverpool City Region, due to skill gaps. Areas such as healthcare, construction and the creative sector are reporting notable difficulties but the good news is, with the right measures we can overcome this deficit.  

“Therefore, this important event has been designed to listen to business leaders and join them in creating strong and meaningful partnerships so that we can understand the ways that we can act now to narrow the skills gap. 

“One of the keys to plugging the gaps is for levy paying employers to use their levy funds to train their own dynamic workforce, by either taking on and training apprentices or by up-skilling existing staff. Those who are not levy payers still have 90 per cent of apprenticeship training funded by the government, meaning they can access a quality training solution in a cost effective way as they only pay the remaining 10 per cent of the training costs.”

Damian also pointed out that it’s now almost two years since the government’s apprenticeship reforms were introduced, yet there is still a large number of employers who are not fully utilising their levy funds.

He said: “It was clear from the outset that there would be a two-year window in which businesses could utilise the funding before the money started to be returned to the government. 

“However, it’s still not too late for employers to utilise their funds, either internally for training or by ‘gifting’ up to 10 per cent to another business or charity. We can support employers with this process and even manage a large amount of the administration if the employer grants us permission as their training provider.”

How Do We Plug the Skills Gaps? Event is free to Wirral Chamber of Commerce members and is being held at Birkenhead School, 58 Beresford Road, Oxton, CH43 2JD, on Thursday, February 28 from 8.30-10.30am.

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