Warwickshire County Council was honoured recently as part of the Federation of Small Businesses Local Authority awards held at the annual ‘Small Business Engagement’ lunch, where local councils are recognised for their support of small firms across Coventry, Warwickshire and Solihull.
Local councils were asked to make known any project or campaign that promotes and champions local economic development. The award presented to Warwickshire County Council was for the best ‘Small Business friendly’ programme or campaign and Warwickshire put forward its Apprenticeship Levy Small Business Support Programme which promotes apprenticeship training.
The judges said of the entry:
“This was a really strong entry for the best campaign and is a fantastic initiative which we believe helps to remove barriers for small businesses around training, skills and recruitment. The project was launched earlier this year and sees this council commit a fund of £300,000 annually through its own apprenticeship levy to be shared with small businesses to help fully fund apprenticeship training.
“The Apprenticeship Levy Small Business Support Programme also offers the opportunity for businesses to recruit a supported young person with an apprenticeship work opportunity and will look to create at least 42 new apprenticeship places a year.
“The judges felt this programme targets an issue that the FSB has been lobbying on to tackle skills shortages that often affect smaller businesses and fits in well with our recent apprenticeship report recommendations to help small businesses employ apprentices and in some cases can give young people their first step into employment.”
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Leader of Warwickshire County Council, said: “We’re delighted to have received this recognition for the scheme.
“The county council’s core priorities are to support our most vulnerable people and to help to sustain a vibrant economy in which small businesses play an integral part.
“By supporting small businesses to recruit apprentices, we are helping to address the skills gap that can be an obstacle to growth for many of them.
“But the Apprenticeship Levy programme does more than that. It also can be used to enable a business to take on a supported young person with SEND. We are looking for the programme to create at least 42 new apprenticeship places a year.
”We hope that this approach can be replicated across the country, helping small enterprises to grow while giving many young people that all important start in the workplace.”