In celebration of National Apprenticeship Week, Asda is to donate £2m to small businesses to help fund around 400 apprenticeships in local communities across the country.

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’s support will initially benefit companies in London, Leeds City Region and Leicester, with plenty more to follow over the coming months.

Asda will work with the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), London Progression Collaboration (LPC) as well as Leicester City Council, who will each help distribute an initial £100,000 to local businesses in their areas.

The supermarket is also looking to partner with other similar organisations elsewhere in the country ensuring that the remaining £1.7m worth of investment available can help businesses thrive.

Asda’s Chief People Officer, Hayley Tatumsaid: 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.

Roger Marsh, OBE DL, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and the NP11, said: “It is great to see a major supermarket chain like ASDA, committing to transferring their unused apprenticeship levy funding to help apprentices within the Leeds City Region.

“Levy-paying businesses play a key role in supporting apprenticeships across the region and help to give people the opportunity to gain valuable skills and training. Using unspent levy funds to cover 100% of training costs for local businesses will increase skills across sectors and support our future workforce while providing long-term benefits for multiple industries. This will be important to our region’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring our economy works for everyone.”

Anna Ambrose LPC Director, said: “We’re delighted that the London Progression Collaboration is supporting ASDA to transfer unspent apprenticeship levy funds to small employers in London, as part of our Reskilling the Recovery campaign. We’re seeing high demand for funds from small businesses keen to access apprenticeship training for new and existing staff, creating vital opportunities in the midst of the pandemic. Every apprenticeship created with the support of ASDA’s funds is helping a low-paid Londoner to build the skills they need to progress in work, and ensuring a small business can access the skills they need to survive, adapt and recover.”

Tracey Waterfield, Employment Hub Manager, Leicester City Council, said: “We are delighted to be working alongside ASDA to promote their apprenticeship levy transfer. Businesses in Leicester will be able to benefit by receiving full funding for the costs of an apprenticeship training programme, which alongside the current wage incentives means it really is a good time for employers to take advantage of this great offer.”

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