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Amazon’s Apprenticeship fund will support 300 SME roles this year

The Amazon Apprenticeship fund will be supporting 300 roles across 250 small medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) this year.

The now £8m fund was set up in 2021 and aims to create more than 750 apprentice roles in SMEs across England by 2024 – a goal that has shifted after initially expecting to help support 250 new roles.

John Boumphrey, UK country manager at Amazon, said: “People across the country have been given a head-start in their career, or transferred into a new career with the right support and opportunities.

“As we expand, we hope other larger employers will also choose to transfer some of their unspent levy to create more valuable apprenticeship roles for people across England to gain new skills, supporting productivity and innovation.”

With previous years finding computer science university graduates were amongst some with the highest unemployment rates, and cost of living increases making university an unlikely option for many, the popularity of apprenticeships has grown over the years.

The UK’s apprenticeship levy was developed by the government in 2017 and requires employers with an annual wage outgoing of more than £3m to contribute 0.5% of this annual pay bill to the levy, which can then be reclaimed in the form of e-vouchers to fund apprenticeship training – though some argue the system is difficult to utilise.

Those benefiting from the Amazon Apprenticeship Fund, which utilises Amazon’s apprenticeship levy, include Amazon Marketplace users, AWS customers, creative industry partners and local authorities.

Schemes supported by the fund include careers such as cyber security specialist, digital marketer or visual effects artist, among others, with apprentices receiving a mixture of on-the-job and classroom training across a span of one to three years to gain the skills they need for their chosen roles.

What roles and skills apprentices receive depends upon the partnering SME, many of those who sell on Amazon, and AWS customers, who are looking for technology apprentices to take on roles in DevOps, IT solutions and cloud computing, as well as retail-related apprenticeships, while local authorities are looking to plug skills gaps in fields such as advanced manufacturing.

There is also a huge focus on developing creative talent through Amazon Music’s partnership with AIM and Women in CTRL and Prime Video’s work with independent production companies and UK Screen Alliance.

The UK’s technology skills gap has caused problems for many businesses, with some complaining they are having difficulties finding people with the right skills for specific tech roles, making apprenticeships a good option for sourcing technology talent as they can be trained to perform a specific role within the host organisation.

As well as its Fund, Amazon has run its own apprenticeship programme for over a decade, bringing more than 3,000 apprentices into the business across various roles in just the past five years.

It also has a number of initiatives supporting science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education, including the Amazon Future Engineer bursary scheme, which helps women from poorer socio-economic backgrounds gain degrees in computer science or engineering; and AWS GetIT, which has so far trained 19,000 students across eight countries who are considering tech careers.

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