Integrated facilities services provider ABM has pledged £192,000 to enable small and medium-sized businesses and social enterprises to re-skill low-paid Londoners.
Partnering with the London Progression Collaboration, ABM says the contribution will establish apprenticeships that not only help people to secure better-quality, higher-paying work but also give London’s businesses the skills they need to bounce back following the pandemic.
ABM’s investment, a portion of the company’s Apprenticeship Levy fund, which was unspent because of Covid-19, will be devoted to businesses in the FM, aviation and charity sectors. Within those sectors, the London Progression Collaboration will be targeting under-represented groups such as NEETs (those not in education, employment, or training), women in engineering and homeless people.
The two-year partnership will see the creation of level two to four apprenticeships to build skills where there is a skills shortage.
Chris Townsend, ABM’s senior HR director, said: “Covid-19 disrupted many things, including our ability to spend our Apprenticeship Levy funds to their fullest extent. Working with the London Progression Collaboration ensures that that money is used effectively.”
Internally, ABM currently has 89 apprentices on 34 level two to seven courses available across the UK, and more that 60 additional applications in the pipeline. ABM said it is committed to “growing these numbers as greater opportunity to maximise Apprenticeship Levy funding is available, further improving skills and talent within the organisation”.
In June 2020 the Social Mobility Commission reported that apprenticeships are one of the most effective means of boosting social mobility for workers from lower-income backgrounds. The body works to tackle rising in-work poverty by supporting in-work progression to help people to move out of low-paid work.
Anna Ambrose, director of the London Progression Collaboration, added: “The last 18 months have been especially challenging for London’s smaller businesses and for many Londoners, including those in low-paid or unstable work. It’s by partnering with businesses like ABM that the LPC can continue to create high-quality apprenticeships which benefit the capital’s residents and businesses.”
The news follows the launch of the fourth year of ABM’s Junior Engineering Engagement Programme , set up to tackle misperceptions of the FM industry among young people and their parents and create a pipeline of future technical talent. It has had more than 450 graduates from 23 schools since 2017.