Liverpool City Region’s leading engineering skills college is urging businesses to make sure they are fully prepared for the launch of the Government’s new Apprenticeship Levy scheme.

The newly rebranded Engineering College, based in Birkenhead, says with the new levy due to come into force in April companies have to start adapting to the introduction of the landmark changes.

The college says it is running a ‘levy doctor’ service where it can come and advise businesses how the changes will impact their operations across HR, finance and management.  

The Engineering College’s CEO Terry Weston said: “The Apprenticeship Levy is hot on the Government skills agenda, but many employers remain unclear as to the impact it will have on their business. The levy is meant to fund an increase in the number and quality of apprenticeships. It will affect businesses with a payroll bill of over £3 million, roughly 2pc of businesses. Each qualifying business will pay 0.5pc of their employee payroll to the levy pot. They can then draw down against their Levy contribution against the cost of training but critically only for the training of apprentices. As a result there are significant implications to companies overall training regimes and how they need to be adapted so more workers are put through apprenticeship training.

“It is also important to understand that although money can be claimed back, there is an 24 month deadline against each monthly payment to HMRC for it to be used by the employer. If it is not claimed back and spent the Government retains the unspent contributions to support funding for the wider apprenticeship recruitment on the national level. We are therefore advising companies it is essential to plan training well in advance to ensure all money can be claimed.”  

The Apprenticeship Levy is being launched by the Government in a bid to deliver a greater number of apprentices across the UK. Companies will be able to access the funding for apprenticeships through a new Apprenticeship Service account. It will pay for training and assessment for apprentices.

The service will also help them find training providers.  The levy is predicted to raise £2.8bn in 2019–20, to help meet the Government’s commitment of three million apprenticeships, starting in England between 2015 and 2020. The Apprenticeship Levy is also designed as a boost to young people, not wanting to go to University.

Mr Weston said smaller companies are a big winner under the new programme.

“Employers with a pay bill of under £3 million will benefit considerably,” he said. “The Government will contribute 90 to 100 per cent of the cost of your apprentice, including training and recruitment costs. If your organisation has fewer than 50 employees, under certain conditions there may be no contribution from the company, so it is a great opportunity and here at the College we can help employers maximise the benefits of the new system.”

The Engineering College unveiled its new company brand in the autumn following a £500,000 refurbishment of its 6500m2 facilities in Birkenhead, part-funded through Liverpool City Region’s Growth Deal.

The Engineering College, formerly known as the Laird Foundation and more recently the Maritime & Engineering College, is based next to Cammell Laird in Monk’s Ferry.  

First founded in 1998 today the college has a turnover of £1.7million and 38 staff.  It has grown apprentice numbers to 330, drawn from 80 clients ranging from large private businesses including Cammell Laird, Balfour Beatty and Clarke Energy to SMEs including Sovex and Laker Vent.

Mr Weston has revealed plans to double the size of the college over five years, plugging the ‘massive engineering skills shortage’ in the region.

The only dedicated engineering skills college in the region, it can provide a range of 20 high skill craft and technician training routes to becoming qualified in engineering that are not offered at any other colleges. Another key strength of the Engineering College is that it can also offer pre trained ‘work ready’ trainees or potential employee/apprentices for employers.

For further details on the Apprentice Levy and services and courses run by the Engineering College contact: Tel: 0151 666 1028