Ideal Heating reinvests apprenticeship funding to support local small business

Ideal Heating has thrown its support behind an independent business by funding an apprenticeship for one of its employees.

The UK manufacturer has used part of its Apprenticeship Levy funding to pay for business services provider Bell4Business employee Connor Docherty to undertake a digital marketing apprenticeship.

The apprenticeship will support the next stage of 21-year-old Connor’s professional development and enable Bell4Buisness to expand by offering additional services.

The Apprenticeship Levy was introduced by the Government in 2017 for all companies paying a wage bill of more than £3m a year. Employers that meet the criteria must pay 0.5% of their pay bill each month as a levy tax.

The levy can be reinvested into the company’s workforce in the form of apprenticeship training. If it isn’t spent within 24 months, any unused funding will expire and must be returned to the Government.

However, it is not widely known that companies also have the option of transferring a percentage of unspent funds to SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), ensuring it is spent supporting other businesses.

Ideal Heating, which is based in Hull, and is owned by parent company Groupe Atlantic, has pledged to transfer up to £25,000 of its annual levy funding to support local talent.

Part of this has been invested to enable Office Administrator Connor to take on a Level 3 Digital Marketing Apprenticeship, gain new skills and achieve a higher level qualification.

The 15-month programme is being delivered by Hull Business Training Centre (HBTC). The Hull and East Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (HEY LEP) played a crucial role in linking up Ideal Heating, Bell4Business and HBTC through its Business Growth Hub.

Maria Cunningham, HR Advisor – Development at Ideal Heating, which currently has 27 apprentices across the business, including four who were recruited in September, said: “As a major employer in Hull, we wanted to give something back and support a small independent business that doesn’t have access to the same level of funding we do.

“It’s really important to us to invest in the local area, to address collective skills needs while helping develop the future talent pool.

“Digitalisation is a key priority for us, so it makes sense for us to invest in the development of skills in this area locally, and we’re delighted to be able to support Connor and Bell4Business.”

It is the first time Ideal Heating has transferred levy funds working in partnership with the LEP. It now hopes to support other similar transfers on a case-by-case basis in areas such as digital, creative and design, and engineering and manufacturing.

Connor’s apprenticeship covers SEO (search engine optimisation), digital advertising and analytics.

He said: “I’m so grateful to Ideal Heating for funding this training. I only began the programme recently, but I’ve already learned so much, building upon all the knowledge and experience I have gained in the business and working with our clients over the past five years.

“I’ll be able to make use of what I learn to benefit the business and it’s also absolutely brilliant for my own career development.”

Louise Bell, owner of Bell4Business, based in Hessle, East Yorkshire, which offers outsourced office services including general admin, telephone answering and marketing, said: “Connor joined us when he was only 16 and he’s done fantastically well, becoming a key person in the business, with his own clients.

“This new programme will support the next stage of Connor’s development. It will also mean we’ll be able to offer additional digital services, grow as a business and hopefully take on more staff.

“Support like this is essential for a business such as ours and I’m incredibly grateful to Ideal Heating.”