Industry to debate apprenticeship levy

Industry charity The Furniture Makers’ Company has announced its one-day conference focusing on the upcoming apprenticeship levy.

The ‘Bridging the Gap’ conference will take place at Furniture Makers’ Hall, London on May 18. It will address the implications of the levy, as well as wider educational issues affecting the industry.

The levy will come into effect on April 6 and is part of the government’s commitment to creating three million apprenticeships in England by 2020.

It requires all UK employers with an annual pay bill of more than £3m to spend 0.5% of the total to help fund apprenticeships.

The conference will feature speakers from industry to help demystify the levy and educate businesses on how they can access the funding to develop and train their workforce. It will be chaired by CD UK managing director Gary Baker.

Other sessions will focus on promoting the industry to young people, including what businesses can do to attract university graduates into the furnishing sector.

The event will also update the industry on the development of the Level 3 Apprenticeship Standard – an initiative spearheaded by the Employer Trailblazer Group led by Senator International.

The ‘Bridging the Gap’ conference follows on from the 2014 ‘Mind the Gap’ report and event, which identified that a skills shortage was developing in the furnishing industry.

Charles Vernon, training and education chairman at The Furniture Makers’ Company, said: “A lot of vital work has been performed by The Furniture Makers’ Company since the ‘Mind the Gap’ report identified the concerning issue of a widening skills gap in our industry. The Company’s training and education initiatives today range from awarding Key Stage 4 students, through our School Design Prize, all the way to funding Masters’ students and developing young industry professionals. Despite this, the skills gap remains a pressing issue.

“With the apprenticeship levy launching this April, it is imperative that companies don’t see it as just another tax, but embrace it as an opportunity to further the skills of new and existing employees. The ‘Bridging the Gap’ conference will not only educate industry about the levy, but allow delegates to debate wider training and education issues within the sector and how we might address them.”

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