Asda to donate £300,000 to local apprenticeship schemes across Manchester to support small businesses

Firstplay apprenticeship levy

Small businesses across Manchester are set to get a cash injection of round £300,000 from Asda to help fund around 60 apprenticeships in the area.

Apprenticeship Levy is paid by large businesses and as part of that proposal, Asda has opted to transfer a portion of its annual funds to pay for apprentices to train in small businesses within local communities, giving young people the opportunity to develop new skills and small businesses the support to develop young talent that they may otherwise not be able to afford.

Asda is working with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, who is helping distribute an initial £300,000 to local businesses.

And the money is already starting to make a difference with Stockport-based Rite Directions already benefitting, gaining funding for two health and social care apprenticeships, while Firstplay Dietary Foods in Stockport will be able to fund their accounts apprenticeship.

Joe Webster – Business Development Manager at Rite Directions said: “I’d like to say thank you to everyone at Asda who was involved in awarding this levy transfer, it will actually make a real difference to the level of care and support we are able to offer the vulnerable young people we work with.

Qualified staff who have gained important knowledge and skills from the apprenticeship programme are more effective in their role, supporting our young people to make more achievements and get better outcomes.”

Tom Fletcher, Company Director of Firstplay Dietary Foods, said: “As a small but growing business looking to the future is key, the apprenticeship scheme helps us do this.  With the support via levy transfer from Asda we’re able to future proof our business by offering opportunities to young people to develop the skills and confidence they will need not only with Firstplay Dietary Foods but throughout their working lives.”

Asda’s Chief People Officer, Hayley Tatum, said: We understand how vital apprenticeships are to companies big and small – providing opportunities for growth and also for young people to gain employment and vital new skills.

“Throughout the pandemic we have done all we can to support our local communities – not just as a supermarket, but as a large business with the ability to have a real impact in the communities we serve. We understand that now, more than ever small businesses and people in our communities need support due to the scale of the economic and social impacts of COVID-19. We are delighted with how our own apprenticeship scheme is progressing and we are excited to see the positive impacts this investment it will have.”

Asda currently has over 1000 of its own colleagues on an apprenticeship across every area of its business and every job level from hourly colleagues up to senior director level.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: It’s fantastic to see a major employer like Asda using their unspent apprenticeship levy funding to support smaller businesses in Greater Manchester. By sharing levy, smaller businesses within the city region can cover 100% of the training costs of an apprenticeship, which helps to build their workforce, develop skills across the sector and provide good job opportunities to people in Greater Manchester.Levy donations are an investment in the local economy, and they also help to forge important links between large and small employers across our city-region.”

Councillor Andrew Western, GMCA Lead for Digital, Education, Skills, Work and Apprenticeships, said:“Greater Manchester’s Levy Matchmaking Service makes it easy for businesses to share unspent levy funding.  It has already helped create over 350 apprenticeship opportunities for Greater Manchester residents. Apprenticeships are vital to our economy, delivering full time work for residents while also giving people the chance to gain vital skills and develop their careers.

“With big businesses like Asda getting behind the scheme, we’re excited to see even more opportunities created in Greater Manchester, as part of a thriving local economy as we recover from the pandemic and beyond.”