Small business apprenticeship boost launched as city-region marks National Apprenticeship Week

Posted on 5 Mar 2019

Small businesses are getting a much-needed helping hand to boost apprenticeship opportunities across the city-region, Greater Manchester leaders have announced.

The £1.9M support package, launched as part of National Apprenticeship Week (4- 8 March), will provide the tools and funding needed to help more than 1,500 small employers and create at least 700 new apprenticeship opportunities.

There are approximately 60,000 small businesses across Greater Manchester and around 25,000 new apprenticeship starts a year. Approximately half of these starts are within small businesses, therefore there are a huge number of employers who have yet to provide apprenticeship places due to funding challenges and a lack of clear advice and understanding.

The Greater Manchester #SeeDifferent Small-to-Medium Enterprise (SME) Apprenticeship Support will help smaller employers and offer additional incentives and support to remove barriers preventing them from embracing apprenticeships.

Business will have access to grants, help with training and recruitment, support with workforce planning, and advice on creating quality opportunities in order to boost the number of high quality apprenticeship opportunities across the city-region, and help Greater Manchester achieve its target of significantly more high quality apprenticeship starts by 2020.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy, representing two-thirds of Greater Manchester’s business community. By doing things differently we can help smaller employers breakdown the barriers to providing high-quality apprentices and unlock hundreds more opportunities for our young people and those who want to reskill and retrain.

“In Greater Manchester we do not underestimate the value of apprenticeships in bridging the skills gap, providing quality employment and boosting productivity. We are leading the way in developing our apprenticeship offer, putting it at the heart of our plans to making this city-region the best place to grow up, get on and grow old – this new support package will enhance our work.”

Councillor Sean Fielding, Leader of Oldham Council and GMCA lead for Education and Skills, said: “We’re building a Greater Manchester where everyone has the opportunity to get on, from making sure our young people are equipped for life to ensuring our workforce has the right skills to grasp the opportunities on offer across the city-region. Apprentices are key to achieving this ambition.

“Historically, around 80% of apprenticeship opportunities were with small-to-medium enterprises, benefiting apprentices and employers alike. We’re committed to supporting small businesses to re-grow this scale of apprenticeship opportunities, not only giving local people employment opportunities, but also giving employers the tools to shape the skilled and talented workforce they need to thrive.”

Funding for the package has been made available after another Greater Manchester apprenticeship scheme came in under budget. Levy transfers from large employers, including the public sector, will also be used to support training costs.

The GMCA has worked with the ten Greater Manchester local authorities, The Growth Company and the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce to shape the support offer.

More information about how to access the package is available here.

GMCA has been working to improve the quality and grow the numbers of apprenticeships in Greater Manchester, which saw 22,591 apprenticeship starts in 2017/18. This is in the face of challenging reforms to apprenticeships, which has seen a fall in apprenticeship starts since the Apprenticeship Levy was introduced in April 2017.

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