The newly formed South Thames Colleges Group launched a combined Business Centre at Merton College this week to help local businesses recruit apprentices, train new staff and upskill existing employees. The Business Centre combines the expertise of the Group's colleges – Carshalton, Kingston, Merton and South Thames – which merged to form the South Thames Colleges Group on 1 August 2017.
The group supports thousands of apprentices and works with more than 1,000 employers, from individual businesses to multi-national organisations.
Local business leaders, councillors and MPs gathered at the Group’s Merton College Taste Restaurant on Tuesday, 5 December, for the official launch of the Business Centre and heard how beneficial taking on an apprentice can be.
Speaking on the evening, civil engineering apprentice Ellie Hurley-Simister, 22, said: “I would encourage any business to take on apprentice. We work hard and help companies build a diverse workforce.”
Jamie Stevenson, Director of the Group’s Business Centre, added: “The new Business Centre is a fantastic resource for organisations, as they are able to access the expertise of all colleges in the group via one central point.
“We can take all the hard work out of recruiting an apprentice, making sure the right individual is matched with the right company. We also help businessesmaking sure the right individual is matched with the right company. We also help businesses with a range of tailored programmes, including training and upskilling staff and helping recruit hard-to-fill vacancies.”
Alongside helping businesses recruit apprentices, the Business Centre also offers advice to companies on the changes to apprenticeship funding, which were introduced in April 2017.
Mr Stevenson added: “We have found a lot of companies are unsure about the apprenticeship levy and what that means for their business.
“We can help explain how the changes will directly affect them and make sure they’re not missing out on the fantastic opportunities having an apprentice in your company creates.”