A total of 19 separate apprenticeships have been funded from the apprenticeship levy donated by a regional co-operative.

Southern Co-op initially pledged £100,000 of its unspent apprenticeship levy to businesses in the Solent, Hampshire, Bath and North East Somerset regions via The Western Training Provider Network and the Solent Apprenticeship Hub.

The co-operative, which has retail, funeral and coffee branches across the region, later pledged a further £25,000 due to the demand of small businesses wanting to employ and train apprentices.

This has already funded a total of 19 apprentices including an Early Years Educator for a Preschool in Hambledon, an Operational/Departmental Manager for a community hub charity on the Isle of Wight, five Senior Heath Care Support Workers for a drugs project in Bristol, two Business Administrators, nine Adult Care Workers, and an Early Years Practitioner.

Most recently, Southern Co-op has pledge its funding for five Early Years Educator apprentices at the Red Bus Nursery Group in Bristol, who have been recruited and can now start their apprenticeship.

Laura Holmes, Head of People for Red Bus Nursery and Pre-School in Bristol, said: “Thank you so much to Southern Co-op for funding our apprenticeships.

“In 2022 we started our Red Bus ‘Inspire’ Programme, giving young people the chance to gain an Early Years qualification in one of our safe, secure, outstanding settings.

“It’s no secret that the Early Years sector is currently struggling with recruitment, and this additional funding allows to us grow our own trainees into the next generation of Early Years Educators!”

Southern Co-op also offers a number of apprenticeship opportunities and job specific qualifications in house including in its retail stores and head office.

With apprenticeships taking 13 to 24 months to complete, the qualifications take hard work and determination but colleagues are supported throughout.

Linda Masterman​, Diversity & Inclusion Manager at Southern Co-op, said: “It is important to us to make sure all of our colleagues have the opportunity to develop their skills and apprenticeships are the perfect way to do this.

“Apprenticeships are inclusive, not just for school leavers, they are available to all colleagues, so is a great opportunity to earn, learn and qualify. It is also really important that we all come together to support each other – whether this is in our local communities or via local businesses.

“We are delighted to see so many people have been able to take up the opportunities to do an apprenticeship and we look forward to many more to come.”

To find out more about roles at Southern Co-op, visit www.southernco-opjobs.co.uk/jobs and https://jobs.cobracoffee.co.uk/.

Or to find out more about the levy transfer schemes, visit www.solentapprenticeshiphub.com/transfer-to-transform or www.wtpn.org.uk/apprenticeship-levy-transfer.