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Amazon launches apprenticeship fund for small businesses

The £2.5m Amazon Apprenticeship Fund will be aimed at helping small businesses use the government’s levy transfer scheme to access talent

Amazon has launched a £2.5m fund for small businesses on its platform to help create more than 200 apprenticeships by the end of the year.

The Amazon Apprenticeship Fund will see Amazon work with small businesses that sell through its platform, as well as its Amazon Web Services (AWS) customers that take part in AWS re/Start, to use the levy transfer scheme to train people for a variety of roles such as digital marketing, cyber security and DevOps.

“We are proud to be creating new opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds across England to gain skills through the Amazon Apprenticeship Fund,” said, John Boumphrey, UK country manager at Amazon.

“We are committed to supporting the UK’s economic recovery post-Covid, and this fund will give our partners, customers and small businesses in the Amazon ecosystem the opportunity to take on talented apprentices who will help those organisations grow.”

The apprenticeship levy was put in place in 2017, requiring firms with a payroll worth more than £3m to contribute to the levy pot, which firms in England can then use e-vouchers to claim back to fund apprenticeship training.

The government then introduced a method for transferring funds, whereby employers who pay the levy but have unclaimed apprenticeship funds can give some of the leftover cash to other employers to use.

As part of the Amazon Apprenticeship Fund, the e-commerce giant will be working with local authorities, including the West Midlands Combined Authority, London Progression Collaboration and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, to distribute funding for apprenticeships to participating small businesses in their areas.

Part of the fund will be used to help train 50 tech-based apprentices across Amazon’s AWS customers taking part in the AWS re/Start programme, training them in roles such as DevOps and IT solutions.

Many of the apprenticeships available through the Amazon Apprenticeship Fund are also aimed at helping small businesses that sell through the Amazon platform improve their e-commerce based practices such as sales, exports and marketing, with training in areas such as digital marketing, business admin, broadcast media technicians, DevOps, artificial intelligence (AI), software development, cyber security and data analytics.  

Apprentices will learn skills such as how to build an e-commerce business, marketing and advertising, and selling products to a global customer base over a period of 12 to 48 months through a mixture of on-the-job, classroom and online learning.

One of the participants of the Amazon Apprenticeship Fund, Rana Righton, is a founder of a south London-based small business, The Gluten Free Bakery, and has been taking part in a digital marketing apprenticeship.

“The Amazon Apprenticeship Fund has already been hugely beneficial for me. As a smaller company, online marketing is the best way to promote your business, and bringing those functions in-house is more manageable financially. I have received lots of continued support both from my course mentor and Amazon directly – it’s great to see Amazon empowering small businesses such as mine,” she said.

Over the next two years, £1m of the Amazon Apprenticeship Fund will be used to support roles in the creative industries.

Minister for apprenticeships and skills Gillian Keegan said: “Apprenticeships play a key role in helping businesses of all sizes to develop the skilled workforce they need and to secure their talent pipeline for the future. As a former apprentice myself, I know the life-changing impact an apprenticeship can have. I’d urge as many people as possible to check out the opportunities on offer.”

This year, Amazon has already announced many job openings, as well as training opportunities for people both in and outside of its organisation, including the creation of 1,000 full-time apprenticeship roles, which included 100 degree-level apprenticeships and 500 apprenticeships for its own employees.

Read more about apprenticeships

  • Cyber security professionals are open to new approaches to finding sorely needed talent, according to a poll.
  • Better use of apprentices, and further reform to the apprenticeship levy, will be key to continuing the impressive growth rate of the UK’s digital economy.

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