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Hiring an apprentice through the apprenticeship levy transfer service with Calderdale College

The challenge

Sometimes SMEs can find themselves in a difficult situation when hiring apprentices due to restrictions to government funding. This rang true for West End Joiners & Builders Ltd, an SME based in Calderdale carrying out joinery and building works for large contractors, local authorities and the residential sector. It currently employs nearly 50 staff, with 10 of these being apprentices, these apprentices are in various stages of their training development and varying age ranges of between 16-24.

So, while West End Joiners & Builders Ltd understands the benefits of having apprentices in the workforce, the business is sometimes restricted as to how many it can hire due to funding.

Joseph Hellowell began working as a general labourer at West End Joiners & Builders Ltd – where his aunt Clare worked – because he wasn’t able to attend his college during the coronavirus lockdowns. His job mainly involved covering for staff who were ill or isolating due to the pandemic.

Joseph enjoyed the work so much that he decided he wanted to pursue a career in joinery. Knowing that West End Joiners offered apprenticeships in this field, he asked whether he would be able to begin an apprenticeship with them.

Unfortunately, West End Joiners & Builders Ltd didn’t have access to any further funding to enable them to accept Joseph as an apprentice for that year, as they had already used their apprenticeship funding allocations. However, knowing that he was a hard worker and was passionate about a career in joinery, the business also didn’t want to risk losing him to another company.

The solution

Calderdale College has provided West End Joiners & Builders Ltd with support recruiting apprentices for over 25 years, so Clare Hellowell, at West End Joiners, reached out to them to see if they could help.

Calderdale College explained that – through its Collaborative Apprenticeships programme, which aims to increase and improve the quality, and access to apprenticeships in Calderdale and the surrounding areas – Clare might be able to access funding through the apprenticeship levy transfer service, meaning they could hire Joseph and the apprenticeship course fees would be fully funded.

The apprenticeship levy transfer service allows levy paying employers to transfer their levy funds to other businesses, to fund the cost of their apprenticeship training and assessment. Although Calderdale College has supported West End Joiners & Builders Ltd with apprenticeship training for many years, this was the first time that the College has supported them using the apprenticeship levy transfer service.

Calderdale College also works with Covéa – a large employer in the region which specialises in insurance – and, knowing that Covéa was looking to share part of its apprenticeship levy with other local businesses, was able to make introductions between the two businesses. The college worked closely with West End Joiners & Builders Ltd to oversee the whole process of accessing the apprenticeship funding and bringing Joseph on board.

The outcome

Joseph has now been working as an apprentice joiner for three months and is really enjoying being able to learn on the job and better understand the skills he needs in order to qualify as a joiner.

Commenting on her experience of using the apprenticeship levy transfer service, Clare Hellowell said: “I wish more people knew about the apprenticeship levy transfer service, and especially how easy it is to use with the help of places like Calderdale College, who managed the whole process for us. Apprentices bring so many benefits for businesses, which we’ve seen first-hand, for example we’ve found that our staff are more engaged and motivated when they are able to develop their leadership skills through mentoring an apprentice. However, hiring apprentices can be really expensive, especially for SMEs such as ourselves.

“Joseph is a great worker and is very eager to learn, so when the opportunity to hire him as an apprentice came up, we really didn’t want to miss out due to a lack of funding. He’s now making amazing progress in his role, so we’re really thankful to Covéa for making it possible for us to hire him and invest in his skills.”

Louise Kenyon, Recruitment Partner – Graduate and Apprenticeships, at Covéa, added: “It’s very important for us to support other local businesses and give back to the community, which is why, when Calderdale College approached us, we jumped at the opportunity to transfer some of our unused apprenticeship levy funding to West End Joiners & Builders Ltd. Hiring an apprentice can feel quite daunting, especially for small businesses, but it doesn’t have to be. We hope that Joe’s story inspires other local businesses to think more about introducing apprenticeships, and would love to explore ways that we can support them on that journey.”

Free support through Collaborative Apprenticeships

Collaborative Apprenticeships is managed by the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges (WYCC) and funded by the European Social Fund (ESF). Calderdale College is supporting the delivery of the project in partnership with local employers and training providers.

Claire Williams, Head of Employer Engagement at Calderdale College, added: “One aim of the collaborative apprenticeship programme is making hiring an apprentice as easy and cost-effective as possible, so we’d encourage any employer who’s considering introducing apprenticeships, or is looking at increasing the number of apprenticeships already on offer, to get in touch and find out how we can support them.”

To find out more about the Collaborative Apprenticeships project,  please email apprenticeships@calderdale.ac.uk