A CHARITY supporting people with autism will benefit from 44 new apprentice care workers thanks to Liverpool John Moores University.

Autism Initiatives has been funded by £132,000 of unspent Apprenticeship Levy from the university.

It is the first transfer of its kind in the Liverpool City Region and was facilitated by the Combined Authority's Apprenticeship Brokerage Service.

Larger employers with a pay bill of more than £3m a year must pay an Apprenticeship Levy of 0.5% which can then be used to fund apprenticeships.

Mark Power, interim vice chancellor at Liverpool John Moores University, said: “Like many large employers, we pay the Apprenticeship Levy but cannot spend everything we put in.

"Rather than see that money wasted, we have worked with the Combined Authority to facilitate this transfer of funds to Autism Initiatives, who will be able to benefit from the creation of 44 new apprentice care workers.

“This fits with our commitment to providing opportunities for all within the city region.

"I’m very pleased that, with the expertise of the Apprenticeship Brokerage Service, we’ve been able to make this happen, and are pleased to confirm that we have identified a further £89,000 available for transfer to employers, please contact the brokerage service for more information.”

Research from the Open University has revealed that more than £3bn in apprenticeship levy funding in England remains untouched with organisations using just 14% of available funding.

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said: “As a former apprentice I have always backed apprenticeships as a great way for individuals to progress and for businesses to develop the skills they need.

“The introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, while well-intentioned, has been problematic at best, to the extent that nationally £3bn is unspent.

“I will continue to lobby government for our city region to have control of our share of the unspent Levy but until that happens, transfers like this - facilitated by our very knowledgeable Apprenticeship Brokerage Service - means that this money does what it is supposed to do and creates valuable new apprenticeships.”

Companies wishing to transfer their unspent Apprenticeship Levy can only do so once the recipient company or organisation has been identified, along with specific courses and training providers.

Sandra Johnston, head of learning and development at Autism Initiatives said: “These new apprentices will be working as Adult Care Workers, making a real difference to the lives of adults living with autism, while gaining level 2 and level 3 qualification.

"We cannot wait for them to get started and are very grateful to Liverpool John Moores University for their generosity in making this transfer and to the Combined Authority’s Apprenticeship Brokerage Service for their expertise in making it happen.”

The Combined Authority’s Apprenticeship Brokerage Service provides a free service to companies and organisations across the Liverpool City Region, putting companies in touch with potential recipients, and putting appropriate courses and training providers in place.

For more information contact apprenticeships@liverpoolcityregion-ca.gov.uk or register an interest through the following link: https://www.liverpoolcityregion-ca.gov.uk/apprenticeship-brokerage-service/