Launched in March 2019, the Salford Skills for Business Apprenticeship Fund was set up to help small to medium to sized organisations (under 250 employees) create more sustainable apprenticeship roles for Salford residents.
The Salford Skills for Business Apprenticeship Fund is believed to be the first public/private/third sector partnership of its kind which gifts on a city wide basis. This innovative fund aims to unlock talent and develops skills in Salford by funding apprenticeships for new and existing employees.
Over the past year the fund has supported 24 organisations, across all the priority sectors, and 34 individuals to undertake an apprenticeship. Of which over 70% are supporting people at the beginning of their career (level 2 or level 3 type qualifications) and 39% are newly created roles.
Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett, commented: “The spirit of the fund is to engage local SMEs (small to medium enterprises) who are willing to employ Salford residents in long term sustainable jobs through an apprenticeship and to support their existing workforce to close the ‘skills gap’ in priority sectors. Through an application process, organisations can access funding for the provision of apprenticeship training and where necessary, access support with employment costs.”
One beneficiary is Salford resident Brad Armstrong. He attended St Phillip’s Primary School as its language resource facility provides a specialist and caring educational environment for children with speech and language support needs. Brad recently returned to the school as a volunteer assisting the PE lead. However, with the help of the Salford Skills for Business Apprenticeship Fund Brad has now been able to undertake an apprenticeship in PE support at the school.
Explaining his reasons behind taking on an apprenticeship, Brad explained: “I wanted a new experience and I liked the idea of learning and working at the same time. I didn’t have much confidence, but since doing the apprenticeship it has grown massively.”
He continued: “I am so thankful that I have been given this chance in life. I’m so happy that more is being done in terms of providing opportunities for young people. Sometimes young people get left to one side, but times are changing.”
St Phillip’s Church of England Primary School has received £3,000 from the Salford Skills for Business Apprenticeship Fund to assist with the salary costs. The Headteacher at the school, Julia Kinch, commented: “We would have really struggled without these funds which have been vital in making this happen. I wanted to give back to the community that we serve by creating this opportunity for a local person and felt that the overarching principles of the SSFBAF were in line with our community, inclusion and growing on your own.”
To date, 13 organisations have committed a proportion of their apprenticeship levy (plus GMCA funding) amounting to £636,727 into the fund with more organisations expected to confirm funding shortly. Partners include Apprenticeships at Salford City College, BUPA, Compass Group, Dock10, GMCA, Kingsland Drinks, Morson, Salford CCG, Salford Council, Salix Homes, Seddon, Sodexo and University of Salford.
Over the last 12 months the Fund has invested £308,340 to support SMEs in Salford to create apprenticeship opportunities and help SMEs, in priority sectors, to develop the skills of their existing workforce. The fund aims to help close skills gaps in key sectors including education, construction, health and social care, digital, hospitality, business and professional services. This is having a massive positive impact both on the organisations and the individuals being supported.
Explaining the benefits to organisations putting into the fund, Allan Milne, Head of Apprenticeship and Business Development at Salford City College said: “As someone who lives and breathes apprenticeships every day, I see the many positives that the reforms have and will continue to deliver. But, there is a current imbalance. As employers, providers and stakeholders we need to ensure that apprenticeships afford opportunities to people to enable them to enter into various careers.”
“As a provider, there is nothing better than our recruitment team working with a company to recruit a local person, who starts an apprenticeship and then develops a career! The individual wins as they have skills and knowledge that will last them a lifetime and the employer has a new highly skilled member of staff who is loyal and motivated.”
He continued: “As a city we need to continue to create the amazing opportunities the people of the city of Salford deserve.”
On Tuesday 3 March 2020, organisations involved in the fund met at The Glass House at Worsley for a morning of celebration and networking. The morning saw keynote speeches from the City Mayor, as well as apprentices and employers who have benefited from the scheme. The event also provided an opportunity for SMEs to find out how they could benefit from the fund and the support available to grow the skills of their workforce.