Sysco Speciality Group vehicles

Sysco GB is pushing for the current apprenticeship levy to encompass wider education funding, including adult learning and literacy and numeracy schemes for its existing staff.

Wider changes to the apprenticeship levy are being advocated for by the FWD, whose members want to see more flexibility and shorter delivery times for the scheme to fit the needs of the wholesale sector.

“When revising the apprenticeship levy, we must consider accessibility,” said Clare Jackson, senior leadership and development lead at Sysco GB.

In a parliamentary reception held last Tuesday, Jackson presented the key figures of Sysco GB’s current levy, including the £2.8m allocated to the government apprenticeship scheme.

“There are hundreds of people across my depot who would jump at the opportunity to increase their literacy and numeracy,” she said.

“Why not use the £2.8m of the apprenticeship levy? I can’t,” she said.

In its current form, the apprenticeship levy does not cover broader skills development, as well as exams and equipment – which Jackson said would “empower workers and give them the essential tools they need to do their job”.

“In previous years, the adult education budget has been quite plentiful no matter where you are in the country. Today it’s been localised, and whether you can access depends on where you are in the country,” Jackson told The Grocer.

Jackson said Sysco would strongly “endorse a national programme” which supports skills from literacy and numeracy to IT skills.

“When you are in our position, because the funding is so few and far between in the geographical areas, it is almost impossible for us to deliver a nationwide programme.

“In order to work for us, the programme needs to work beyond local colleges, be flexible around the 24-hour work patterns, and it needs to be decomplicated.” 

An example of simplifying the process, according to Jackson, would be removing barriers for learners such as writing email applications.

“We need to remind ourselves that different people and different learners have different needs, and we are there to support that.”