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Clearing up the apprenticeship levy confusion.

Employers are expected to take ownership of apprenticeships, thanks to the Government’s new levy, but the message is far from clear.

Managers at Klarius, a Cheadle-based manufacturer of exhausts and other car parts, knew little about the levy until six months ago.

A chance meeting with a member of PM Training staff opened their eyes to the £25,000 bill which is appearing in monthly instalments on their HMRC payroll bill.

Wayne Johnson, Manufacturing Manager at Klarius, said: “I went along to a PM Training levy workshop and discovered there is a wealth of support on offer.

“Now, we are using our levy money to employ three apprentices and we’re considering increasing this to bring more young workers into the business.”

Doug Bentley, Head of Product Development at Klarius, added: “All three new apprentices have settled in quickly and are learning new skills and contributing to the outputs of their departments.

“It’s a great way to bring new talent into a business. PM Training have supported us through every step of the process.

“We’ve also made new local and industry contacts so we’ve gained on many levels, in a very short space of time.”

Introduced in April this year, the levy only affects employers with a payroll bill of more than £3m per year.

Some companies run their own apprentice schemes or in-house training, and can claim back the money from the Government to cover the costs. But many companies are not doing this.

"PM Training have supported us through every step of the process."

Steve Rushton, director of partnerships at PM Training, said: “This ‘levy budget’ is simply being paid by thousands of companies all over the country.

“Businesses are treating it as a stealth tax, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

“The money can recruit new apprentices, it can upskill your current workforce, or you can do nothing, carry on paying it to the Government and getting no return.

“We can support companies by handling the recruitment, interviews, appointment and training of your new apprentices.

“We can also train your current staff in higher level apprenticeships, preparing them for supervision and management roles.”

Steve has identified 162 companies in and around Stoke-on-Trent who will be making levy payments.

So far only 47 of them are using these payments to work with PM Training to get apprentices on their books and make use of the money.

Steve Rushton added: “This levy is not just about young people, it’s about upskilling all generations.

“It was introduced in April, but research by training organisation City & Guilds found one in three companies are unaware it, and most of those who are aware are confused about it.

“We are Staffordshire’s leading provider of apprenticeships, we are already assisting 74 companies in the area, and we can take the stress out of this for you.

“You don’t have to just write it off as another HMRC payment, you can get something in return for it.

“The Government is trying to get 3m apprenticeship starts by 2020, and this levy is helping you take control of that.”

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