Leeds City Council has pledged to offer support to local apprentices who may be struggling to complete their training due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Temporary business closures and other restrictions imposed during lockdown have resulted in some apprentices not being able to finish their qualifications. Recognising the importance of apprenticeships, the council has now set out a plan of action to provide support and guidance to those affected.
In some cases, it might mean the council working with an employer to source funding that will allow an apprentice to be retained. The council could also work with a training provider to find an alternative place where the apprentice can complete their training.
Councillor James Lewis, leader of Leeds City Council said:
“Taking on an apprenticeship can be life-changing and we want to ensure as many people as possible are able to use them to progress at work, gain further qualifications or enter into a new career.
“That is why, if an individual cannot finish their apprenticeship as planned because of COVID-19, we will aim to support them to complete it.
“We will do this either by helping their employer seek funding to retain them, or by attempting to identify an alternative employer who will let them finish their apprenticeship.”
The service aims to improve access for small and medium enterprises to the support and funds that are available for apprenticeship training costs. As part of the council’s response to the pandemic, the Employment and Skills service supported more than 2,500 people into jobs between April and December 2020, including 269 apprenticeships. The majority of those supported live in the 20% most deprived neighbourhoods in Leeds.
The service currently has around 2,000 people across its programmes receiving personalised one-to-one support and guidance. In January the team began a community-based employment support programme and will help up to a further 4,000 unemployed residents access assistance to gain employment or further skills.
More than 6,600 people of all ages normally start an apprenticeship in Leeds each year, although the numbers for 2020 and 2021 are likely to be lower due to the impact of the pandemic.
Apprentices and employers wanting to find out more about the support on offer from the council are asked to visit the Employment and Skills Leeds website.
The newly-announced effort will complement the work being done by Levy Match Leeds, a service launched last year by the council in partnership with the Leeds Anchors Network.