A £900K pilot scheme that aims to create more apprenticeship opportunities in the county has been launched in Hampshire.

The funding – a transfer from Hampshire County Council’s Apprenticeship levy - is being made available to help fund new apprenticeships until March 31, 2021.

It will be targeted at small and medium enterprises, public bodies such as local councils and the emergency services, academy schools, health and social care providers and construction companies.

Councillor Keith Mans, Leader of Hampshire County Council, said: “I am pleased that, as a large local authority, we are able to contribute significantly to promoting employment in Hampshire, with the money to support employers to invest in training and develop people for their future workforce.

"Without this assistance, some companies would not be in any position to offer an apprenticeship.

“The levy transfers should help to maintain low rates of unemployment and perpetuate the level of economic prosperity benefitting Hampshire residents.”

Employers seeking a share of the transferred levy funds will be encouraged to prioritise the offer of an apprenticeship to those who are vulnerable, such as young people who are not in education or training, the long-term unemployed, care leavers and people with special educational needs and disabilities.

To qualify, employers must ensure apprentices are a Hampshire resident or working in the county, and that the apprentice’s place of training and work will be within the Hampshire local authority area - even if the employer's head office is not. Further sector related criteria will also apply.

In May 2017, the Government introduced the Apprenticeship Levy as part of its reforms to work-based and technical education.

This obliges all employers in England who have an annual salary bill of £3m or more to commit 0.5 per cent of that amount to apprenticeship training.

From April 2019, the Government introduced the facility for employers to transfer up to 25 per cent of the annual Apprenticeship Levy to other employers.