It is National Apprenticeship Week and the hospitality industry is #FiredUp. Umbrella Training apprentices have been to the Houses of Parliament to discuss the value of apprenticeships with MPs and raise further awareness of the importance of supporting vocational education. We have also attended assemblies in schools and ran several open days to promote meaningful development programmes.

All these events promote hospitality as a career of choice and will make a difference to individuals and organisations involved.

Hospitality as a community is embracing apprenticeships and the benefits of strategic development of team members using the apprenticeship levy. The question is, what about those organisations that do not have the levy and do not have an easy access to funding? How do they maximise the potential of their team and retain them in a very competitive market?

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the hospitality industry have had access to funding through apprenticeship providers with non-levy contracts, but this kind of engagement had its shortfalls such as a limited pool of apprenticeship providers to choose from and the need to pay a 10% co-investment cash contribution. This has dropped in the last year to a 5% co-investment payment with government contributing 95%. Although it sounds like an amazing deal, the reality is that some of the SMEs simply could not afford it.

January 2020, and a change in policy, sees SMEs being able to independently apply through the renowned Digital Apprenticeship Service to reserve three apprenticeship places directly rather than rely on a limited pool of apprenticeship providers with ESFA contracts. This is a great step forward.

This method of engagement comes with a level of freedom to choose the right apprenticeship provider for the business, but initially does limit an SME to only three places.

To battle this inequality and to provide equal access to opportunities for all our business partners, Umbrella Training is bringing the hospitality community together to support SMEs by organising “gifting” through an initiative called levy transfers.

A great example of a recent match we have made is a large levy paying caterer gifting two small hotels in Medway and London. As a result of this tie-up, the hotels have had the opportunity to develop five hospitality supervisors with a vision to retain and promote from within.

An important point to have in mind is that there is no co-investment payment required which as identified is a barrier for an SME due to the levy payer absorbing of 100% of the funding required.

The beneficiary organisations can develop their teams on a larger scale and make a difference to the direction their business takes without having to pay 5% contribution.

The gifting organisation can support the hospitality community in a sustainable manner and give something back. The impact on their corporate social responsibility is very tangible and meaningful plus for those organisations that are unable to spend their levy, this is the best way to support the community they are a part of.

The Mayor of London recognised the importance of hospitality industry for development of London and created London Progression Collaboration (LPC) – an organisation to support SMEs and provide opportunities for transfers in London between large employers and SME sector. Umbrella Training works closely with LPC on supporting the hospitality community to invest into meaningful apprenticeship programmes utilising the levy transfers.

If you are an SME, or you have a limited levy that you have already utilised, join us to hear about the transfers on 7th Feb at 2pm at City Hall. Umbrella Training will be working with LPC and levy paying employers to support the hospitality community by providing avenues for funding of meaningful apprenticeship programmes.

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