Apprenticeship support for East Sussex businesses

young people looking at an information boardAPPRENTICESHIPS in East Sussex will be given a boost this week as East Sussex County Council supports National Apprenticeship Week, which runs from February 5 to February 11.

As well as highlighting the national campaign, the county council is reminding small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) about the support available to assist with their organisation’s skills and training needs.

The Transform Skills Toolkit provides a step-by-step guide for businesses thinking of taking on an apprentice or investing in other skills training.

The online resource from the county council’s Transform programme has been developed by delivery partner, Sussex Council of Training Providers (SCTP), to help SMEs understand what opportunities are available and how to access them.

The toolkit looks at the benefits and opportunities of investing in skills development and highlights key workforce planning questions businesses may want to consider, as well as listing support agencies and websites that can provide further information and advice.

Cllr Bob Standley, East Sussex County Council’s lead member for education and inclusion, special educational needs and disability, said: “I am delighted that we are once again supporting National Apprenticeship Week.

“Many micro, small and medium sized businesses in East Sussex want to invest in apprenticeships but they can struggle to understand what funded opportunities are available.

“That’s where the Transform Skills Toolkit can help, and I strongly encourage local SMEs to find out more about the resources they may be able to access to help them establish apprenticeship opportunities within their business.”

The Transform project, funded by the county council and European Social Fund money, was launched in 2021 and aims to increase the take up and knowledge of apprenticeships, traineeships and skills training among SMEs across the county.

The Hastings Advice and Representation Centre (HARC) is a St Leonards based charity that works to relieve local poverty through an accessible advice and advocacy service.

HARC has been supported by the Transform programme to take on two apprentices, providing opportunities for two young adults to get back into work and start learning again.

Wendy Knowles, Development Manager at HARC, said: “I can honestly say that without the support from Transform we would not have embarked on this journey.  They helped us understand how an apprenticeship could benefit our organisation, and crucially, helped us as a charity to secure funding to pay for both the apprenticeship itself and the associated salary costs.”

Polegate based electrical firm CDS Electrical regularly has one or two apprentices working for the company.

Graeme Turner, a Senior Electrical Engineer with the business, said: “Our organisation has benefited hugely from the Transform programme. We always have one or two electrical apprentices, and we benefit because the funding is all paid for.

“Without training up the youth of today there’ll be nobody else to take our place. And for a company it’s vital – you’re investing in the youth of today. Transform has greatly helped our business. It means we can take more apprentices on and further our business.”

Harrison Bullard is one of CDS Electrical’s Installation and Maintenance Electrical Apprentices. Harrison said: “An apprenticeship is such a beneficial thing for young people. There’s always support and if you get stuck there is always someone you can call.”

Defiant Sports in Eastbourne offers inclusive sporting opportunities for children and adults who face barriers to participation due to disabilities or long-term conditions.

To date, the company has facilitated two coaching apprenticeships with support from Transform.

Loretta Lock, CEO at Defiant Sports, said: “We want to grow a workforce we can support and help so for us to be able to offer the apprenticeship has been really important. Having both the funding and knowledge available to us has been incredibly helpful.

“We’d like to keep having an apprentice every time one finishes so we’re getting more and more young people involved in coaching and accessibility, as well as supporting them into careers they can benefit from and enjoy.”

Aaron Bishop completed a Community Activator Coach Level 2 apprenticeship with Defiant Sports and is now a Coaching Supervisor with the company.

Aaron said: “The apprenticeship allowed me to expand my coaching knowledge through training courses and I have now been brought on full time. The apprenticeship was very easy to go through.”

Employers can employ apprentices at different levels, from school leavers and university graduates, to people who want to further their careers or change career direction completely. Businesses can hire someone new or upskill an existing employee, and government funding is available to help pay for apprenticeship training.

Employers can find out more about accessing apprenticeships and funding through the Transform Skills Toolkit at

SMEs in East Sussex who would like support accessing apprenticeships and funding can contact for advice and guidance.