The UK e-fulfillment logistics company Whistl has launched a fund to support small businesses that cannot afford to fund their own apprenticeships.
The fund focuses on early years learning, digital and engineering-focused apprenticeships. In a pilot study, the company helped 20 organizations fund Level 2 to 5 apprenticeships in areas across the UK, including Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Yorkshire.
The fund stems from Whistl’s monthly surplus funds. In the UK, employers with an annual pay bill over £3m (US$4m) have to pay the apprenticeship levy in monthly installments. These employers are termed as ‘levy-paying employers’. Employers have 24 months to use their funds once they enter their apprenticeship service account, after this point, their funds will expire.
Whistl typically has £30,000 (US$40,600) a month available from its levy to fund apprenticeship training both within the company and the community. It has therefore assigned these funds to help organizations that are not able to benefit from the levy scheme.
Alistair Cochrane, CEO of Whistl, said, “At Whistl we really do invest in our employees, providing opportunities for career development in all areas of the business whether through apprentice qualifications, the Kickstart scheme, our HGV Driver Academy or our Leap learning and development apprenticeship program which is open to all employees who wish to further their career.
“At Whistl we believe that people want to work in a company that will give them opportunities to upskill and to develop their potential no matter what their current role is. We call our employee development program ‘We value your career’. We are delighted that we can extend our program to also help provide people within our local community with career development opportunities too.”
Alex Burghart, the UK Minister for Skills, said, “Apprenticeships are playing a vital role in delivering the skills this country needs and we want employers of all sizes to be able to hire and train apprentices with confidence. That is why we have given employers the freedom to reallocate their unused levy funds, as part of a cross-sector effort to support high-quality apprenticeship training. It’s fantastic to see the work Whistl is doing to support local businesses and apprenticeships in their area and I would encourage all larger businesses with leftover levy funding to follow their lead.”