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L-R Central Mailing Services apprentice Luke Williams and company director Richard Morrow

The Federation of Small Businesses is calling on more SMEs to take advantage of the Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Fund, set up by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

The apprenticeship levy is charged by HM Revenue and Customs on all businesses with a payroll of over £3 million. Large employers donate a portion of their unspent apprenticeship levy funds to smaller companies, covering 100% of their apprenticeship training and assessment costs. So far, the West Midlands scheme has created more than 320 new apprenticeships at almost 150 SMEs across the region.

Central Mailing Services in Birmingham has taken on 19 year old Luke Williams, who is working towards a Level 3 qualification as an infrastructure technician. Luke runs the company’s internal IT helpdesk, dealing with any day to day problems experienced by staff, and is also adding new updates to the company’s IT systems.

Company director Richard Morrow said: “Luke is a brilliant asset. Having joined us fresh from college, he has a great skill set, is passionate in the job and brings a new outlook.

“We wouldn’t have been able to take him on without having his training paid through the Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Fund. Everyone benefits – we are gaining from Luke’s knowledge and he is getting experience and a qualification working with us.”

Luke said: “I’m loving my job and it’s great to learn while earning and work with lots of different people.”

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Large employers have now pledged more than £5m to the Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Fund, and we want to make sure that as many local residents and businesses as possible benefit from the scheme.”

Rich Bishop, FSB West Midlands regional chair, said: “Small businesses champion apprenticeships as a great way to tackle skills shortages that often affect them, while also giving young people their first step into employment. They are also a great way of promoting social mobility and helping those furthest from the job market into work.”

Susie Haywood
Article by Susie Haywood
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