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New Skills Programme ‘Be the Digital Business’ Launched Today

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A groundbreaking new skills funding programme ‘Be the Digital Business’ is being launched today to help thousands of small and medium-sized businesses in England to train people in digital careers.

Data, digital and tech apprenticeship provider QA and mentoring provider Be the Business have joined forces to deliver the programme, which will offer participating SMEs fully funded training for people to enter new roles in Data and AI, Cyber Security and Cloud IT, as well as direct access to industry leaders for valuable insight.

Be the Digital Business will use unspent Apprenticeship Levy money from leading household names – including Amazon, Capita, Nationwide and Salesforce – to provide full funding for digital apprenticeship programmes to help SMEs sustainably thrive in the digital economy.

The Apprenticeship Levy is a tax that all employers with a payroll of more than £3m pay. It is designed to create a pot that can then be drawn upon by the same business to pay for apprenticeship training. However, many large businesses do not spend the money they are entitled to, with Treasury figures suggesting that £418 million of apprenticeship funding went unallocated in the 2022-23 financial year.

In response to this, QA and Be the Business are inviting large businesses that currently pay the Levy to use a mechanism called the Levy Transfer System, to donate up to 25% of their Levy funds to another employer. It is this money that will help fund the new Be the Digital Business initiative.

Under the ‘Be the Digital Business’ initiative, enrolled apprentices will receive training through the programme’s Digital Academy. During their time on the programme, apprentices will be equipped with the tools to master in-demand digital skills such as data analysis, adopting AI and coding, all of which are critical for the UK’s economic competitiveness, innovation, national infrastructure, and security.

QA and Be the Business are set to host a series of webinars and events for SMEs and prospective apprentices to shed further light on the programme and roll out the training.

Jo Bishenden, Managing Director of Apprenticeships at QA, said:

“With digital skills predicted to be required for 90% of roles within the next two decades, small businesses will need to attract, train and retain talent order to thrive in the digital economy.

“The Be the Digital Business initiative will allow SMEs to succeed in the digital landscape by unlocking funds that would otherwise go unspent, without any additional cost to the public purse.”

Anthony Impey, CEO at Be The Business, said:

“It’s great to be launching this partnership with QA.

“I speak to leaders of small businesses every day who tell me about the challenges that they’re facing finding the skills they need, especially digital and tech skills. And we know from our work with 13,000 businesses that those that become more digital, increase their productivity as a result. So this new partnership with QA to help more small businesses access the digital skills they need will also generate big productivity wins for those businesses who get involved.”

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