A growing number of businesses are taking advantage of the support Kent County Council (KCC) offers when it comes to taking on apprentices – but the authority’s Leader wants more firms to come forward and apply for a share of Apprenticeship Levy funding to boost skills, job opportunities and the local economy.
As well as offering expert advice to Kent businesses looking to recruit apprentices, the County Council can transfer up to 25% of its Levy funding to other employers who meet the criteria.
KCC made a £1.3million contribution to the Apprenticeship Levy in 2021-22. To qualify for a portion of the pot businesses must show they will use the money to improve Kent lives. There is more about the criteria, and how to apply, on the Council’s website here: www.kent.gov.uk/business/grow-your-business/hire-an-apprentice
Tuesday’s Growth, Economic and Development Cabinet Committee will hear that 84 employers are now using KCC levy, supporting a total 198 apprenticeships. Further employers are in the pipeline, proposing to support over 100 additional apprentices
Kent County Council Leader Roger Gough said the statistics are “very encouraging” but is keen to see more firms using levy cash to bring in fresh thinking and new skills and give young people valuable work experience as the Kent economy bounces back from COVID.
KCC Leader Roger Gough said: “We know from our own experiences of taking on apprentices across a wide range of areas within KCC what a fantastic asset young people are.
“From accounting and business administration, to social care and teaching, our apprentices want to learn, develop and lay the foundations for a successful career. Along the way, they share new ideas and inspire others with their commitment, energy and exciting potential.
“Latest figures show more Kent businesses are seeing the value of apprenticeships and I want to keep that upward trend going and underline that help is on hand – simply visit the Kent Choices website contact the National Apprenticeship Helpdesk by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
“Businesses wanting to know more about taking on an apprentice or how to apply for levy funding can also call 0800 015 0400 (8am to 10pm), 7 days a week.”
Apprenticeship training is available to anybody over the age of 16 and there are subjects and levels to suit the needs of most organisations. You can read first-hand experiences of some of KCC’s apprentices here: www.kent.gov.uk/jobs/starting-your-career/be-an-apprentice
Along with discussing the draft new Kent and Medway Economic Strategy, Tuesday’s Cabinet Committee will also hear that 22 16 to 24-year-olds are currently gaining work experience with KCC under the Government’s Kickstart programme.
A £2 billion-funded national initiative aimed at creating high-quality 6-month work placements for young people on Universal Credit deemed to be at risk of long-term unemployment, a further 20 have completed their Kickstart placements with the County Council. A total 10 have secured employment with KCC and 6 have gained work elsewhere.
Under the Reconnect Programme, KCC Schools also offered 80 Kickstart placements in 2021-22. A total 8 candidates have since completed their placement and subsequently secured employment with their school and 4 have gained employment elsewhere. 44 young people are still on the programme.
The Kent & Medway Employment Task Force, which brings together numerous organisations and MPs to help boost jobs and skills in the county, has been supporting the Kickstart initiative in Kent to help young people learn and earn.
Roger Gough, who chairs the Task Force, added: “As our new draft Economic Strategy for Kent and Medway to 2032 makes clear, skills are the cornerstone of a thriving economy, attracting businesses to invest and enabling those businesses to be successful.
“Skills are also the gateway to securing better futures. That’s why, whether it be via an apprenticeship, a placement or other form of training, we want Kent’s young people to have every opportunity to gain valuable work experience to help them secure jobs and careers.
“My thanks to all those employers that have supported apprentices and Kickstart to date. With the levy’s help, I look forward to welcoming many more businesses to our boosting-skills-in-Kent journey.”
Read some of our Kickstart case studies here