When 20-year-old Ami Richardson describes the impact of the apprenticeship funded by energy company Vattenfall, she is unequivocal. “It has changed my life,” she says.
Ami, from Ipswich, is just one of the young people who have been given that invaluable first foothold in the world of work thanks to a New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership scheme which transfers unspent apprenticeship funding to local SMEs.
Ipswich software and app development company Coderus took on Ami as a business operations apprentice after receiving the unused funding from the Swedish firm which is developing two offshore wind farms off the Norfolk coast.
Businesses which have used their levy and want to employ an apprentice or upskill existing staff can have their training costs covered through LEP’s Apprenticeship Levy Transfer scheme, which was launched in 2019.
So far, the initiative has funded 213 apprenticeships worth £1,782,606 and helped more than 80 small employers offer individuals the opportunity to complete an apprenticeship.
Large organisations that pay into the government’s apprenticeship levy can transfer up to 25% of unspent funds to a small employer which will fund the training costs. Last year, £330m went back to the Treasury and was lost from the skills pool. The innovative scheme is designed to use this money to support local businesses and increase opportunities for young people.
Ami, who is currently compiling her portfolio for her End Point Assessment and finalising her Improvement Project, says an apprenticeship was the right option for her because it provided on-the-job training rather than classroom lessons.
“My apprenticeship has changed my life because I have been able to learn more and have a job at the same time. The opportunity itself has been invaluable.
“I have become more confident since starting my apprenticeship and have also taken on many new responsibilities with my role at Coderus, including creating an effective Covid-19 safety plan.
“Having an apprenticeship has let me gain on-hand experience of being in a workplace while also learning a lot on the job. There is always something new to learn while working.”
For employers who take on apprenticeships, the scheme is a win-win. As well as having their training costs fully funded through the scheme, they have the opportunity to recruit young people who can add value to their business and help it to grow.
Susan Falch-Lovesey is Vattenfall’s Local Liaison Officer and Skills Champion for the Norfolk Vanguard and Norfolk Boreas wind farms. She says the Apprenticeship Levy has helped the energy company with its internal training and upskilling and having the flexibility to transfer it is a neat opportunity to collaborate with stakeholders to build skills capacity in the local supply chain and support development in Norfolk and Suffolk.
“We are very impressed at the motivation and initiative that Ami has shown, and the support that Coderus has given her,” comments Susan. “It is wonderful to see that the opportunities and experiences gained from undertaking this Business Administration Apprenticeship have made such a positive impact on Ami’s career.
“An Apprenticeship Levy Transfer is straightforward to do. Vattenfall encourages other larger companies who pay a levy to consider this opportunity, facilitated by the LEP, as an opportunity to prioritise skills and talent for the future of this region we’re so invested in.”
Alison Thomas, co-director of Coderus, says all its apprentices play a significant role in the success of our business. “It has been wonderful to see Ami flourish in both skills, experience and confidence during her apprenticeship,” she says.
“We are delighted to see Ami finish her apprenticeship in the coming months and progress to office junior. She is such a valued member of our team and very much both liked and respected by her colleagues.”
Lil Atkinson, Ami’s assessor at Suffolk New College, is also full of praise for the approach she took to her apprenticeship throughout her time on the programme.
“Her approach to her apprenticeship has always been professional and calm and she hasn’t shied away from ensuring she developed, not only the skills and behaviours to do her job, but the underpinning knowledge of where practices fit into the wider sector within which she works.”
To find out more about the scheme, go to https://newanglia.co.uk/apprenticeship-levy-transfer