A training provider which celebrates its 50th year in 2017 is offering free advice to employers worried about looming changes to the way apprenticeships are funded.
South West Durham Training (SWDT) is organising an employer breakfast event at its premises on Aycliffe Business Park in Newton Aycliffe later this month (January 27).
SWDT will deliver key information about the introduction of the apprenticeship levy and how it will affect companies of all sizes.
As from April this year, the way the government funds apprenticeships will change – some employers will be required to contribute to the apprenticeship levy, while there will also be changes to the funding for apprenticeship for all employers.
SWDT chief executive Lee Childs (pictured above) sees the changes as an opportunity for businesses to upskill their existing staff, and has organised a free event for firms to find out more.
Childs said: “The apprenticeship reforms might seem quite daunting to employers, there are a lot of changes that come into force from April this year. They’ll have to handle a digital account and manage their levy pot, for example.
“But rather than being afraid of it, businesses must embrace it, and we actually see the changes as an opportunity.
“The one good thing from these reforms is that they will enable us to do more for local employers. They open up new opportunities for existing workforce development, whether that’s through apprenticeships or other training programmes.
“We want to help employers through the reforms, talk through the levy and how the changes will affect businesses, both levy payers and non-levy payers.”
SWDT last year welcomed new apprentices from Hitachi Rail Europe and 3M in Aycliffe, Darlington-based Cummins, Stockton-based car parts maker Nifco and Barnard Castle-based pharmaceuticals giant GSK.
All are on engineering or manufacturing programmes with bespoke elements required by their employer, including hydraulics, pneumatics, electrical, fabrication and welding.
SWDT now has more than 300 learners on the books across all years and a number of new customers.
Clients include other Aycliffe firms such as Husqvarna, Senstronics and Ebac, while SWDT also provides apprentices for Darlington firm Mech Tool Engineering and Spennymoor’s Thorn Lighting.
Childs, an engineer from Shildon who served his time with SWDT 16 years ago and who took over as chief executive in October 2015, says the employer breakfast event is available to existing clients as well as other businesses.
“During the seminar we’ll talk about how firms can find the right apprenticeship pathway for their employees, apprenticeship recruitment in general and the Digital Apprenticeship Service, as well as the levy,” he said.
“We’ll also provide some modelling, by showing how the changes will directly affect businesses when the changes come into play in May, and how the landscape is going to lie for them.
“We want to talk employers through all the changes and we can work with them during the transitional period and give employers as much information as possible.”
SWDT, a subsidiary of Bishop Auckland College which employs 27 staff, celebrates its 50th year later this year.
In 2011 its £3.6m manufacturing and product design training centre, offering state-of-the-art facilities, was opened, and includes high-tech equipment including 3D laser scanners, laser cutters, rapid prototyping machines, routers, highly-automated and flexible manufacturing systems, CNC lathes and millers, floor standing pillar drills and an industrial process control station.
• The employer breakfast event is being held at SWDT on Friday January 27, from 8am, followed by networking – to register email [email protected] or call 01325 313194. More about SWDT can be found at www.swdt.co.uk