Monday marked the beginning of National Apprenticeships Week, an annual celebration bringing the business community together to celebrate the impact of apprenticeships on individuals, employers and the economy.

Businesses offering apprenticeships are helping to keep skilled staff at organisations in Herefordshire and Worcestershire, and the Chamber itself has many success stories with our own apprentices moving through the ranks to attain full-time roles and become valued members of staff.

Earlier this year, H&W Chamber unveiled its latest manifesto, compiled with the results from more than 600 businesses who took part in our Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) and over 4,000 interactions with companies in the two counties. One of the key issues that continues to be raised from all sectors was skills – and retaining these skills in the two counties.

Based on feedback from British businesses, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and the wider Chamber Network lobbied hard for an apprenticeship system that encouraged increased participation in quality training by companies of all sizes, particularly SMEs.

Celebrating the two counties' food and drink industries

In the Autumn Budget last year, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that apprenticeship fees will be halved to five per cent for small businesses to help companies invest and grow, ensuring British workers are equipped with the skills they need to thrive and prosper. From next month, the amount of funds that levy-paying employers can transfer to other employers to support apprenticeships will increase from 10 per cent to 25 per cent.

Levy-payers can transfer funds to any employer, subject to rules outlined on The rules can include employers in their area, sector or supply chain, and charities – using the funds to back new apprenticeship programmes or to upskill existing workforces.

The Chamber is currently collecting responses for the first QES of 2019, with a section that explores the ageing workforce and national skill shortage. I’d like to invite local businesses to take part in the survey to ensure your voice continues to be heard: