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Viridor chief backs apprenticeship drive

ian mcaulay

Viridor is backing the proposed apprenticeship levy as part of its commitment to skills and life learning, despite reservations in parts of the business community.

Industry associations including EEF, which represents manufacturing employees, the Confederation of British Industry and the Institute of Directors had all sought a postponement for up to two years.

But Viridor chief executive Ian McAulay, in an exclusive interview with MRW, said he was happy for his company to invest in workforce skills.

When details of the new regime were announced on 12 August, Terry Scuoler, EEF chief executive, said: “Question marks still remain. Employers will want to see a commitment from the Government that the system will evolve and respond to employer needs not just in the lead up to the implementation date but, importantly, also afterwards.

“Delaying the introduction of the levy would buy the Government some much-needed additional time to work closely with industry to iron out some of the major wrinkles. This will be vital if the levy is to support the creation of more high-quality apprenticeships.”

McAulay said he, too, had reservations about imposing a levy of 0.5% on the pay bills of larger companies from April but he backed the principle.

“I guess the thing that people want you to say is, ‘oh, it’s a terrible thing’. But Britain has to invest in its future in terms of learning and development. We did let that slide – we’ve got to get back the skillsets.

“Apprenticeships are hugely important to this country and we’re quite happy to invest in that.”

McAulay is proud of the company’s commitment to skills and learning, and says it was one of the key attractions of Viridor when he joined three years ago.

“We’re trying to create a culture of being a learning organisation. Often, we have been at health and safety events and what we say to people is ‘do more than go home safe each day: go home knowing a bit more about what you do so that, when you come back tomorrow, you can do it a little bit better’.”

The company currently has 35 apprentices, both at general and higher levels, while a further 90 are in construction apprenticeships through contractors. It has sponsored its own foundation degree course at Edgehill University in Lancashire.

The full interview with McAulay is in the special RWM issue of MRW which is available from Friday and at the event.

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