Apprenticeship boom for South Glos residents

More apprenticeships for South Gloucestershire residents are on the way after a successful West of England apprenticeship fund scheme welcomed its latest official member.

Airbus has become the latest West of England organisation to pledge support to invest in apprentices at an event hearing from some of the 200-plus new apprentices supported already thanks to the West of England “Share to Support” scheme – and to encourage other big firms to sign up so that “cash raised for apprenticeship training in the West stays in the West”.

Share to Support is run by the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority and Western Training Provider Network and sees apprentice-levy paying employers like Airbus pass on their unused levy funds to create more apprenticeships for local people.

Airbus ran a six-month pilot programme, investing over £90,000 to Share to Support to create apprenticeships for residents, but has now decided to make its scheme membership official.

This means it joins other big West of England employers who have pledged to invest in apprentices by pledging more cash to smaller firms to take on new apprentices or develop the skills and prospects of existing members of staff through apprenticeship training.

This means, to date, up to £3 million has been pledged to the West of England’s ‘Share to Support’ scheme. The news came at a big celebratory event co-hosted by Mayor Norris and Western Training Provider Network over at Engine Shed for the 11 employers who had already gifted their unused levy funds via Share to Support. Big firms like GKN Aerospace based in Filton, Bath University, Bristol Sport and others, each received a certificate saying a unique tree had been planted in their honour and other goodies from the Mayor on the night.

The 70-plus attendees also heard from some of 80-plus businesses supported by the Share to Support gifters as well as some the 240 new apprentices who have been taken on about why the scheme had made such a big difference to them.

Metro Mayor Dan Norris said: “Three million thank yous to all those who are making sure we keep this apprentice cash local. These cash pledges are being put to excellent use already, helping equip local people right across our region with the skills they need in our changing workplaces, some of whom I got to meet on the day.

“It will boost apprenticeship opportunities and help share prosperity and opportunities for all – what a great collective effort.”

Louise Holmes and Helen Steele, national account managers at Airbus, said: “Airbus ran a six-month pilot before committing to go further with the Share to Support scheme. We can confidently say it has been a success and we are pleased with the uptake and ease of process.

“We have made the decision to continue to transfer funds because we see the value to the local community, and we wish to see an increase in apprenticeships nationally. We are delighted to continue to support local businesses to develop their employees and grow their organisations.”