Harlow Stories Your MP Writes... By Rob Halfon MP I’m very pleased to be writing my first article for Harlow Stories Magazine and wish them every success with their new venture! Dear reader, I was delighted to hold my 5th Annual Harlow Jobs and Apprenticeships Fair last month. The day was a great success that saw hundreds of visitors coming to see over 60 businesses and organisations that were exhibiting. I am very grateful to Harlow College, Stansted Airport and DMG Mori for sponsoring the event and making it all possible. Harlow Jobscentre, Seetec, Ingeus and the Harlow Chamber of Commerce were also a great help in organising the day. It was a pleasure to have BBC Essex supporting the event too. They brought along the BBC Bus for visitors to find out more about a career in journalism and try out reading the weather. I had a lot of fun giving it a go myself! Other than the fantastic BBC Essex, the stand-out exhibitor had to be GU Puds who were giving out free deserts all day! They are opening a factory in Bishops Stortford next year and will be creating a wide range of jobs for Harlow residents. It is great news that unemployment in Harlow is continuing to fall. As of September, the total number unemployed claimants in Harlow was 991. This is 97 lower than in September 2015 and 16 lower than in August 2016. This wouldn’t be possible without our fantastic, hardworking and thriving business community that we have in our town. Thank you again to all the businesses and organisations that came and supported the event. I look forward to seeing everyone there again next year! As Skills and Apprenticeships Minister, one of the main things I have been working on is the Apprenticeship Levy. The Apprenticeship Levy is a tax that only large businesses will have to pay, which will help to fund three million more apprenticeships by 2020. My passion for apprenticeships and skills stem from a simple truth: they represent a huge ladder of opportunity for those seeking work, giving thousands of people the chance to go as far as their talents will take them. That’s why the apprenticeship levy is so important. Last week, the Government set out how apprenticeship will be funded. The main measures include more support for younger apprentices and disadvantaged people, and more flexibility for employers. • • • • •
100% of training costs will be paid by government for employers with fewer than 50 employees who take on apprentices aged 16 to 18 years old. This will also apply to smaller employers who take on 19- to 24-year-olds who were in care or 19- to 24-year-olds with an education and health care plan. £1,000 each will be given from government to employers and training providers who take on 16- to 18-year-olds and 19- to 24-year-olds who were in care or who have an education and health care plan. Providers that train apprentices from the most deprived areas on apprenticeship frameworks will continue to receive additional funding from government. More than £60 million will be invested in supporting the training of apprentices from the poorest areas in the country, equalling around one third of all apprentices. Employers will have longer to spend funds in their digital account, with 24 months before they expire. Employers will be able to transfer digital funds to other employers in their supply chains, sector or to apprenticeship training agencies in 2018, and a new employer group including the Confederation of British Industry, Federation of Small Businesses, British Chambers of Commerce, Charity Finance Group and EEF - the manufacturers’ organisation – will help government to develop this system so that it works for employers. There will be more funding for STEM apprenticeship frameworks and higher pricing of apprenticeship standards to support improved quality.
Very best wishes,