A major Cumbrian employer has committed up to £20,000 of its Apprenticeship Levy to help smaller firms and charities train their staff.

As National Apprenticeship Week draws to a close, Sealy UK has revealed its commitment to the local business community.

Sealy UK, which employs hundreds of people at its Aspatria factory, has joined forces with Carlisle College to offer the support.

The partners say they want to help local firms boost their existing talent and drive economic growth across the region.

Many SMEs have reported that due to the size of their business, they cannot afford to employ apprentices, even though they recognised that the apprenticeship system would help them grow and future proof their work.

In a unique move, Sealy UK will pay for the lifetime of the apprenticeships, which typically last between 12 and 48 months.

Carlisle College provides more than 30 apprenticeship programmes including accountancy, adult care, business administration, customer service, construction, engineering, digital marketing and leadership and management.

Claire McGregor, HR manager at Sealy UK, said: “At Sealy we take pride in supporting our local community.

“We would be keen for small businesses and charities to apply.

“We hope this will be a positive opportunity for individuals to gain training and skills they would otherwise not have access to.”

Martin Norris, business development manager for Carlisle College, said: “We are delighted to be Sealy’s chosen training provider for apprenticeships.

“Apprenticeships provide businesses with the opportunity to invest in the future of their workforce and develop skills aligned with their future business goals and needs. “We are looking forward to working with the successful applicants.”

Sealy UK won the Best Community Involvement Award at the 2019 in-Cumbria Awards.

It takes its socio-economic responsibility seriously and supports several initiatives and sports teams in the town.

n To be eligible for the fund, applicants must be able to demonstrate the difference that the apprenticeships will make to their business as well as the local community.

All apprentices must also already be part of the existing workforce.

For more information, email mnorris@carlisle.ac.uk

The submission deadline is Friday, February 28 and applications will be reviewed by the Sealy panel.