Lancashire County Council has over 30,000 employees and is invested in providing opportunities to all employees regardless of age, position or salary grade. This helps ensure that as an organisation they can continue to develop and meet the everchanging needs of its citizens, workforce, and services across Lancashire.
Whilst there is training funding available within the Council, they also have access to Apprentice Levy funding which has provided an opportunity to significantly invest in the training of Council employees. The Council has used the Levy to upskill existing staff which has enhanced the skills of the organisation and brought a new dynamic to teams and new ways of thinking/approaching their ways of working.
The Levy has also helped support new members of staff with training that helps them to develop in their chosen profession, by supporting Care Leavers and young people into their first employment roles at different levels in the Council. The roles include administration, surveying, highways and roles within schools. Vanessa Carthy, Apprentice, Qualification and Growth Manager at the Council can see the value of staff training and apprenticeships:
“The outcomes of staff training are to be celebrated. The achievement of Apprentice qualifications is a great benefit to the apprentice, the Council and the economy of Lancashire.”
Vanessa can also see the further benefits of transferring any unspent levy to a local business: “Any unspent Levy can also be shared across the County by transferring to other employers who do not have their own funds. The Council’s wish is to use any underspent Levy funds to support other employers within Lancashire who can provide Apprenticeship opportunities, particularly in areas that share the same economic needs.
Our criteria for transferring levy funds are in areas where this can support under-represented/disadvantaged citizens. This can include filling skills gaps in such areas as construction, digital and professional roles, plus support development and opportunities in social care settings. The Council are committed to ensuring that as much of the Levy as possible remains within Lancashire and therefore this is the ideal opportunity to support this.”
One such recipient is The Liberty Centre; whose Chief Executive Gwen Bleasdale advocates the benefits the Levy transfer can bring: “We are most grateful to be the recipient of the Levy from Lancashire County Council. Being part of the apprenticeship scheme has enabled us to retain and develop a skilled and talented member of staff, by offering an important development opportunity. During the programme, they have enhanced their skills and expertise, and we have benefitted from the positive impact on the organisation and services. The Apprenticeship programme has enabled us to improve the quality of our service as well as implementing changes and creating new services. To have the opportunity to learn whilst working, within a University, is a cost-effective way for any employer to retain and motivate talented staff.”
Vanessa Carthy from Lancashire County Council advises any employers thinking about Levy transfer to go ahead: “Employers who have the opportunity to transfer any available Levy funds, should absolutely do this. The rewards for the transferring and receiving Employer are rewarding and beneficial to all. We have a mutual interest in upskilling and providing an opportunity for the young people of Lancashire to have their first experience of work, with the additionality of training is a welcomed contribution to careers and aspirations.”
The Council has transferred Levy funding to 35 employers and plans to continue to do this on a rolling programme. The employers included are The Liberty Centre, Social Care Organisations and Schools amongst others. For 2021/22 the Council have already committed to the transfer of Levy funding. Since 2017, the Apprenticeship Levy has been a fantastic opportunity for organisations to support their employees in undertaking training to assist them in their career aspirations, whilst providing a return on investment for the Council.