The Black Country Skills Factory, part of the Black Country LEP, is leading the way in supporting employers to understand and support apprenticeships through delivering targeted advice sessions, the first to be delivered in central England in partnership with the National Apprenticeship Service’s Skills Funding Agency (SFA).
Employers from across the Black Country attended the sessions introduced by Stewart Towe, Chairman of the Black Country LEP, featuring best practice advice from SME employers on their positive experiences of apprenticeships as well as advice on how to get started and the business benefits for SMEs.
The Black Country saw 13,219 apprenticeship starts in 2012/13 across all sectors. The Skills Factory has specifically focused on addressing skill shortages in the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) sector and since its inception has supported over 100 apprentices an increase in engineering apprenticeships of 21% since 2012/13.
Stewart Towe, Chairman of the Black Country LEP, said: "There has never been a better time to take on an Apprentice, through the Black Country Skills Factory the LEP is focused on supporting HVM employers to recognise the business benefits of apprenticeships. We hope that through offering advice in partnership with the National Apprenticeship Service we will enable employers to recognise that an apprentice should be a long term asset for their business.”
Dan Baker, from the Skills Funding Agency, said: "Working with the Skills Factory to deliver these sessions enables us tap into their local and regional expertise to ensure we are speaking to the right businesses, in the right sectors, offering the right advice. We are keen to make sure as many businesses as possible understand the benefits of taking on apprenticeships and we are delighted to work in partnership with the Local Enterprise Partnership.”
The Black Country Skills Factory is an employer-led project supported by UKCES funding whose aim is to address the skills shortages in HVM sector in the Black Country, the only scheme of this kind across the UK to focus specifically on the HVM sector.