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LEP teams up with employers to promote apprenticeships

The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership has joined forces with some of the region's key employers to encourage more businesses to take on apprentices.

A short film, released to coincide with Apprenticeship Week 2018, features companies in Shropshire, Herefordshire and Telford & Wrekin explaining how vital apprenticeship are to the future of their business.

The LEP, and its business support service in the region, the Marches Growth Hub, also developed the video to support employers facing changes brought about by the new Apprenticeship Levy.

LEP director Gill Hamer said: "We face an issue with an ageing workforce and a skills gap. How we tackle this challenge now will have an effect on the future of our economy, not just here in the Marches but across the UK.

"Employers who take on apprentices know the benefits they can bring. For example, each apprentice is estimated to deliver an average net gain of £1,637 a year to their employers.

"We are very grateful to GKN Land Systems, Caterpillar Defence and Arctic Circle, and their apprentices, for taking part and inspiring other businesses to consider how they can implement a programme to train their own workforce.

"The Government wants to support employers to achieve a target of 3 million apprenticeships by 2020 – that’s the equivalent of more than one apprentice starting every minute of every day over the next five years.

It wants to put employers in the driving seat and increase the quality of training on offer – but here in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, only one fifth of companies have apprenticeships."

The Marches LEP is already supporting employers responding to the apprenticeship challenge. It has secured £3 million of Growth Deal funding to develop three advanced manufacturing hubs in the region, creating 2,700 apprenticeships.

Matt Bulley is managing director of Caterpillar Defence, which has apprentices training at one of the three hubs, the Marches Centre for Manufacturing and Technology in Bridgnorth.

In the video, he says the LEP investment had been 'exceptionally helpful' and a catalyst for skills development.

"Apprenticeship are very important for our business. They help provide the balance of our workforce from our retirees who have been here 20, 30 or 40 years and allows us impart those skill and pass them on to the new apprentices as they work hand in hand during that transition."

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