Southampton City Council Cabinet Member for Green City and Place, Cllr Steve Leggett, explains how important it is to build a skilled workforce for the future to help the Southampton economy recover from the pandemic.

The article is written as part of the Daily Echo Love Local Business Campaign, an initiative to support firms in the city through these tough times, backed by Southampton City Council and GO! Southampton.

Cllr Legget writes:

'Build the Future’ was the inspiring title of National Apprenticeship Week which ran from 8 to 14 February 2021.

Building the future is what we are all looking forward to coming out of this pandemic. But with the economy having taken an enormous toll as a result of COVID-19, how can apprenticeships help?

Apprenticeships, essentially a real job where you learn, gain experience and get paid in doing so, provide people with new skills whilst helping businesses to plug their skills gaps.

We tend to think of apprenticeships for only young people, but in reality, they are for anyone over the age of 16 not in full-time education that wants to earn while they learn industry-relevant skills.

Daily Echo:

  • Cllr Steve Leggett

Opportunities range from construction to maritime, from digital to engineering, retail and management and apply to new employees or existing employees wanting to develop their skills.

Over the last few years, Southampton City Council has supported 181 apprentices and currently has 150 placements underway across the organisation.

But this opportunity is not just for big organisations. In Southampton, due to our innovative ‘Transfer to Transform’ scheme, small to medium sized businesses (SMEs) can essentially take on apprentices with the help of the Solent Apprenticeship Hub for free.

The Solent Apprenticeship Hub is an EU-funded project that offers employers a free and impartial service on all aspects of apprenticeships and wider skill needs of employers.

Daily Echo:

The Hub is behind the Transfer to Transform scheme, an innovative way to recycle unallocated apprenticeship levy monies of large employers into SMEs to fund apprenticeship places – either by upskilling existing member(s) of staff or recruiting new talent into the business.

Transfer to Transform provides a key route for ensuring the city continues to invest in the skills of its workforce and talent pipeline as part of our wider plans for economic recovery and growth.

Daily Echo:

The scheme has now surpassed an exceptional £1,275,000 in pledges, with over £1m already distributed across 77 different SMEs in the region, resulting in 87 apprentice starts so far. Locally, Southampton City Council is one of the organisations that has pledged our unallocated apprenticeship levy funds, which currently amounts to £305,000. This has enabled 19 local employers to pay for the apprenticeship training of 44 individuals.

It was great to see the work of the Hub recognised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, at a recent networking event organised for large employers across region.

The Chancellor said: “The Solent Apprenticeship Hub has shown fantastic initiative in developing its own networks, both locally and across the country.

Daily Echo:

"It is thanks to local businesses that apprenticeships in Southampton will continue to expand, driving growth, creating jobs and aiding our economic recovery.”

Innovative initiatives like Transfer to Transform will help us build back better and Love Local.

For more information on apprenticeships, please visit

There. you will find advice on how to employ an apprentice and also how to become an apprentice.