Unspent Big Tech Training Funds to Be Used for Small Business Upskilling Overhaul

Today marks the launch of a groundbreaking skills funding programme titled ‘Be the Digital Business,’ aimed at assisting thousands of SMEs in England to train individuals for digital careers.

In a collaborative effort, data, digital, and tech apprenticeship provider QA, alongside mentoring provider Be the Business, will spearhead the programme. ‘Be the Digital Business’ will offer fully funded training for individuals to enter roles in Data and AI, Cyber Security, and Cloud IT, along with direct access to industry leaders for invaluable insights.

The initiative will utilize unspent Apprenticeship Levy money from leading household names such as Amazon, Capita, Nationwide, and Salesforce, to provide SMEs with full funding for digital apprenticeship programmes, facilitating sustainable growth in the digital economy.

The Apprenticeship Levy, a tax paid by all employers with a payroll exceeding £3 million, is intended to create a fund that can be used for apprenticeship training within the same business. However, a significant portion of this money often goes unspent, with Treasury figures revealing that £418 million of apprenticeship funding remained unallocated in the 2022-23 financial year.

In response, QA and Be the Business are encouraging large businesses subject to the Levy to utilize the Levy Transfer System, allowing them to donate up to 25% of their Levy funds to another employer, thus fueling the ‘Be the Digital Business’ initiative.

Under this programme, apprentices will undergo training through the Digital Academy, where they will acquire essential digital skills such as data analysis, AI adoption, and coding, crucial for the UK’s economic competitiveness, innovation, infrastructure, and security.

QA and Be the Business will conduct a series of webinars and events to inform SMEs and prospective apprentices about the programme and its training opportunities.

Jo Bishenden, Managing Director of Apprenticeships at QA, commented: “The Be the Digital Business initiative will empower SMEs to thrive in the digital landscape by unlocking funds that would otherwise remain unspent, at no additional cost to the public purse.”

Anthony Impey, CEO at Be The Business, added: “This new partnership with QA will enable more small businesses to access the digital skills they need, thereby generating significant productivity gains for those involved.”

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