Coastal West Sussex Partnership

Member Article

Take on apprentices to bolster local economy, SMEs told

Sussex SMEs are being urged to take on apprentices to help mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on youth unemployment. In response to the crisis, local councils are making it easier for SMEs to access the Apprenticeship Levy. The Coastal West Sussex Covid-19 Impact Report, commissioned by the Coastal West Sussex Partnership, predicted a nine-year recovery period for the local economy. According to the report, as of April 2020 80% of all UK workers in hotel, food and accommodation are on furlough; for the arts, entertainment and recreation, the figure is 68%.

With unemployment among young people set to rise as a result of industries such as hospitality being severely affected by lockdown and social distancing measures, West Sussex County Council and Adur & Worthing Councils have announced that they are making the Apprenticeship Levy available across the county.

The Apprenticeship Levy covers the cost of training an apprentice. The process has been made “more fluid”, according to West Sussex County Council, with no fixed closure date and decisions expected to be turned around within 15 working days.

Henry Powell, Chairman of the Coastal West Sussex Partnership, commented: “Skills and employment will continue to be key issues for our region as we seek to face the impacts of Covid-19 head-on.

“With many young people employed in the worst affected sectors, the challenge now is for local employers, organisations and education providers to work together to create better prospects for young people, which in turn will create better outcomes for business. The Apprenticeship Levy is one answer to that challenge.

“We must ensure that local people have the skills they need to be well-placed to tackle the challenges of the future. Apprenticeships offer the chance to work and study, with no cost to the employer when it comes to training. We strongly urge employers to consider how taking on an apprentice could help them.”

One local business that has benefitted from apprenticeships is Littlehampton Welding. Members of its team have completed master’s degree apprenticeships in senior leadership. Production manager and apprentice Nathan Saunders said, “I will use the knowledge gained to benefit both the business and myself. To learn vocationally on the job gives an opportunity to integrate learnings almost instantaneously.”

Littlehampton was identified by the report as being in the top 50% of UK towns most at risk of the economic impacts of Covid-19, as were Bognor and Selsey.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Coastal West Sussex Partnership .

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