Leeds City Council needs hundreds of new apprentices

Leeds City Council needs to recruit more than 500 apprentices a year to fully recoup its �2.4m apprenticeship levy.  PIC: Andy Watts
Leeds City Council needs to recruit more than 500 apprentices a year to fully recoup its �2.4m apprenticeship levy. PIC: Andy Watts
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Leeds Council must recruit hundreds more apprentices each and every year if it wants to claw back a £2.4m tax on its payroll.

The money, plus an extra 10 per cent top-up from the Government each month, can be claimed back by the council to spend on apprenticeship training but it faces a challenge to recruit enough apprentices in order to do so.

Councillors Mohammed Rafique,  Leeds Councils executive board member for employment, enterprise and opportunity.

Councillors Mohammed Rafique, Leeds Councils executive board member for employment, enterprise and opportunity.

Some 290 apprentices currently work for the local authority but it need to employ more than 500 apprentices if it is to fully reclaim an estimated £2.4m.

The new Apprenticeship Levy began in April in what is the biggest national shake-up of apprenticeship funding for a generation.

Public bodies with 250 or more staff also have to have apprentices accounting for at least 2.3 per cent of their workforce.

Councillor Mohammed Rafique, Leeds Council’s executive board member for employment, enterprise and opportunity, said: “The council’s apprenticeship cohort has been expanded from 150 to nearly 290 in the last 12 months. However, this expansion, while significant, equates to only 1.7 per cent of the Council’s head count and leaves us with more work to do.”

He said the council would market the council’s apprenticeships especially to younger people and people from priority groups, and would adopt higher level apprenticeships, to increase the council’s apprenticeship quota.

The levy sees the Government charge all employers 0.5 per cent of their wage bill, if their respective bill exceeds £3m a year. The funds are then made available via a new digital account for employers to pay for training for apprentices from a recognised provider.

Funds expire after two years and any left unclaimed are lost.

Castleton Mills in Armley, Leeds, which has undergone a transformation. 
Picture by Simon Hulme

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