As National Apprenticeship Week draws to a close, businesses in Kent are being reminded to continue sharing their apprenticeship levy to help the economy recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a large employer, Kent County Council pays an apprenticeship levy to the Government and, in return, receives levy funds to spend on apprenticeships for its own new and existing staff. Thanks to Government reforms that took place in 2019, levy payers can also share some of their levy funds with other employers, allowing them to also take on apprentices or enabling their existing staff to access apprenticeship training to support their workforce development.
KCC has already used its levy to help 24 Kent businesses run 90 apprenticeships. As KCC marks National Apprenticeship Week 2021, and as organisations of all sizes look ahead to a post-Covid-19 world, other levy payers in Kent are being encouraged to keep sharing their levies to help small businesses, get people back into work, and boost the economy in the county.
Lynn Reddington, Deputy Registrar and Customer Services Officer at KCC’s Kent History and Library Centre (KHLC), knows only too well the benefits of taking on an apprentice.
Emily Murrin, 23, from Chatham, completed a Level 2 Apprenticeship in Customer Service under Lynn’s management and developed into a ‘model staff member’ who could be relied upon to show new colleagues the ropes.
Lynn said: “Emily came here as a shy young lady and blossomed into a confident, competent, popular staff member, who always went the extra mile. As a Customer Support Assistant, she developed into a model staff member with excellent customer care skills. She was the one we put new staff with, to learn the correct way to do the job. She always had her finger on the pulse of what was happening at the front of house and made sure things were dealt with immediately.”
Emily, who worked for KHLC for five years before using the skills and experience she gained to secure a job as a Clinical Support Worker for the NHS, added: “I applied for the apprenticeship after I finished my A Levels. When I started I was very shy but everyone was really nice and they didn’t mind when I asked a lot of questions. The apprenticeship helped me to learn new skills and to build my confidence.”
A virtual event is being organised by KCC and Medway Council, aimed at showing levy payers how they can maximise the benefits of the apprenticeship levy so even more businesses can benefit from having an apprentice. Details will be announced soon.
Shellina Prendergast, Kent County Council’s Cabinet Member for Communications, Engagement and People, said: “This National Apprenticeship Week, we are encouraging everyone to think about how they can play their part in helping Kent’s economy to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sharing the apprenticeship levy with smaller businesses is a fantastic way to do just that. It assists companies that may otherwise struggle to take on new staff, allows existing employees to further their careers and helps people get back into work or get their foot on the first rung of the career ladder.
“I’m delighted that KCC has been able to use its apprenticeship levy to help many Kent businesses and residents. Once again I would like to congratulate everyone who has completed an apprenticeship with KCC and every Kent resident who has been an apprentice at another company in the county. I would like to wish them every success in their careers going forward.”
Notes to journalists:
- Find out more about sharing KCC’s apprenticeship levy, including how to express an interest in applying for funds, here: https://www.kent.gov.uk/business/business-loans-and-funding/hire-an-apprentice
- Read more about the Government’s changes to the apprenticeship funding system here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apprenticeship-levy-how-it-will-work/apprenticeship-levy-how-it-will-work#non-levy-paying-employers
- Kent County Council is continuing to offer apprenticeships to new and existing staff. Details can be found here: https://www.kent.gov.uk/jobs/starting-your-career/be-an-apprentice/guide-to-apprenticeships
- Kent County Council also supports the Government’s Kickstart Scheme, run by Jobcentre Plus, which provides funding to employers to create job placements for 16-to-24-year-olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long-term unemployment. Find out more here: https://kccmediahub.net/young-people-kickstarted-into-the-world-of-work745 and here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/kickstart-scheme
Emily Murrin, 23, from Chatham, completed a Level 2 Apprenticeship in Customer Service at Kent County Council’s Kent History and Library Centre (KHLC): “I applied for the apprenticeship after I finished my A Levels. When I started I was very shy but everyone was really nice and they didn’t mind when I asked a lot of questions. The apprenticeship helped me to learn new skills and to build my confidence of working in a professional environment. Then there was a position for a Customer Support Assistant (CSA), which I then applied for. I then had to go for an interview, which was quite nerve-racking as I knew the people interviewing me. When I got the position for CSA I was really happy.”
Lynn Reddington, Deputy Registrar and Customer Services Officer at KCC’s Kent History and Library Centre (KHLC) and Emily’s line manager during her apprenticeship: “I would just like to say that it has been an absolute pleasure to line manage Emily! She came here as a shy young lady, and blossomed into a confident, competent, popular staff member, who always went the extra mile. Emily worked through her Apprenticeship with diligence and determination, always handing in assignments on time. We started off giving her small projects to engage in, and built up her skill set, and she continuously showed that she had more capacity.
“As a Customer Support Assistant, she developed into a model staff member with excellent customer care skills. She was the one we put new staff with, to learn the correct way to do the job. She led ‘Baby Bounce’ and ‘Rhymetime’ sessions and was an enormous help to colleagues and me when dealing with volunteers. She always had her finger on the pulse of what was happening at the front of house and made sure that things were dealt with immediately. She was also never afraid to ask questions.
“Emily grew so much in confidence that she was able to deal with difficult customers professionally and with no escalations, and was very popular with all of the customers.
“I started off saying that I am her line manager, but Emily is loved and respected by all the staff here and we wish her well in her new role as Clinical Support Worker at Medway Maritime Hospital.”
Quotes from managers/senior staff about how their apprentices have benefited them and their organisations:
- Felicity Webster, Long Mead Community Primary School, Tonbridge, about a Level 3 Early Years Educator apprentice: “L is absolutely fabulous and reliable. She has come back from visiting Sheltered Housing where she did carol singing with the children and worked with them to make Christmas cards for the residents. Her manager said they don’t know how they’d have coped without her – she’s enjoying every minute of her apprenticeship.”
- Gillian Burnham, Temple Ewell Nursing Home, Dover, about a Level 5 Nursing Associate apprentice: “We are really enjoying supporting the nursing associate apprentice. It is really evident how much she has learnt in the past year and she is now very competent and a pleasure to have as part of the team. I look forward to the future when we can invite and support more students in this way.”
- Greg Burnard, Forza Industries, Ashford, about a Level 6 Laboratory Scientist apprentice: “S was recruited as an apprentice and has been perfect. He shows attention to detail, and an appetite to grow and absorb the company culture. This year he has experienced some real personal growth – has undertaken audits with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and excelled. He is fully integrated into the business and will be a offered a permanent role in the company.”