Support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) was a hot topic in the House of Commons recently, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak MP, announced plans to address issues surrounding access to training funds.
As West Berkshire’s “Principal training provider,” we have been working with Laura Farris MP and other community groups to raise the concerns of local employers with central government to ensure that their staff training and development needs are addressed.
In her question to the Chancellor, Ms Farris presented the issue highlighted by the College that “it’s still the large employers that keep the bulk of apprentices when it’s SMEs that form the backbone of local economy.”
Director of Business and Partnerships, Dr. Jo Houghton said: “We are in daily discussions with both large and small businesses and see the challenges faced by employers in recruiting new talent. As well as supporting our students to develop the skills, knowledge, and behaviours for employment, we are also actively involved in supporting the needs of our local businesses and ensuring that SMEs have financial support to enable them to use apprenticeship programmes to meet their business needs.”
Rishi Sunak, MP commented that he “is proud that [Ms. Farris] is working with Newbury College in her local constituency” and added that from August, "employers who pay the Levy but have unspent levy funds, will be able to use a new bulk transfer service to send that money to SMEs combined with a new SME match function.”
Apprenticeship programmes are a fantastic way for employers to support the development of new talent and upskill or retrain existing staff. Newbury College will be working alongside the Department for Education (DfE) to identify the opportunities and functionality of the bulk upload and SME match function, mentioned by Mr. Sunak. We are available to support Levy paying organisations in transferring funds and small to medium enterprises in the local area to optimise these for their benefit.