THE Hampshire-based DIY giant B&Q is giving a £100,000 boost to apprenticeships among the Solent’s small to medium sized businesses.

B&Q has put the money into the Transfer to Transform scheme, which allows big employers to use unspent money from the apprenticeship levy to help smaller enterprises.

The transfers help cover the costs of apprenticeship training for SMEs, enabling them to take on and train new staff or boost the skills of existing employees.

Andy Moat, people director at Chandlers Ford-based B&Q, said: “The Transfer to Transform scheme is an excellent way for employers to work together and ensure that levy funds are used in the best way and it’s a really simple way for big businesses to support their local communities through supporting SMEs.

“To be able to share our levy fund with SMEs and to help them rebuild through skills and the creation of new opportunities in the area is vital now, more than ever.

“I’d encourage any large business with unspent levy funds to seriously consider how they could use those funds to support SMEs in their local communities,” he added.

Business with an annual wage bill of more than £3million pay an apprenticeship levy equal to 0.5 per cent of their total payroll. The government then adds tops it up with another 10 per cent and the business can draw the money down to spend on apprenticeships.

However, businesses with unspent apprenticeship levy can elect to transfer it to smaller firms such as Solent Apprenticeship Hub’s Transfer to Transform.

B&Q offered its funding for tradespeople roles. Apprenticeships have already been agreed for four small businesses to train a gas engineer, a plumber and two installation maintenance electricians.

B&Q runs an extensive apprenticeship programme itself and saw 123 staff graduate from its retail team leader level three apprenticeship in January.

It has recently expanded to 28 apprenticeships schemes and aims to have more than 850 staff taking part by the end of the year.

Jodi Fair, manager of the Solent Apprenticeship Hub and the Transfer to Transform scheme, said: “To receive the backing of a nationally renowned employer such as B&Q, whose headquarters are located within the Solent region, brings the level of credibility to the initiative that was needed to ensure success”

As of August 25, Transfer to Transform had collected pledges worth £850,000 for distribution to the region’s SMEs for use in apprenticeships.

Details are at