Workforce, employment and skills

We are committed to helping our businesses access the workforce they need in order to grow and to develop skills and opportunities for our residents.

The challenges of COVID-19 have had a marked impact on employment in West Sussex. In line with the rest of the country, we are seeing changes in workforce demands across the county, skills shortages in some sectors, relatively low unemployment and changes in the way in which people are working and interacting brought about by a combination of the impact of COVID-19 and the swift development of new technology.

In 2020-21 WSCC commissioned two reports to look at how the pandemic had affected employment and skills in West Sussex, and provide potential solutions to the emerging challenges for the local economy. The two reports were developed through discussion and engagement with a wide range of partners and stakeholders

Recruiting an age diverse workforce

The impact of COVID-19 on workforces across the county has been considerable. The pandemic has caused the biggest annual fall in employment for the over 50s in four decades. This age group are also taking longer than other groups to return to work after a period of unemployment.

We are encouraging businesses to embrace age diversity and ensure that their businesses meet the changing needs of workers throughout their careers.

This might mean enabling flexible working, encouraging staff training at every stage in an employee’s career, or being responsive to the needs of employees with caring responsibilities by offering part-time work or altered working hours.

Take a look at our case studies of West Sussex businesses that are reaping the benefits, skills and experience of an age diverse workforce.

Further support from the Centre for Ageing Better on how to plan for a more age-diverse workforce is available below.


Apprenticeships combine work with study to enable employees to develop skills while gaining qualifications in a specific field. They enable employers to upskill their existing workforce, or to recruit and train new staff.

Apprenticeships bring businesses many benefits including:

  • Delivering highly motivated and responsive workers, qualified on completion of their training scheme.
  • Attracting new people into the workforce, enhancing diversity.
  • Bringing new transferable skills to the established workforce.
  • Providing recognised career development and progression routes.
  • Offering relevant training designed by employers and technical experts.
  • Addressing skills shortages and reduce staff turnover.
  • Providing opportunities for existing staff to gain supervisory experience.
  • Funding is available from the Government for the training programme and employer grants can be accessed from Local Authorities, including West Sussex County Council’s Apprenticeship Levy Transfer.

Apprenticeship funding

As a large apprenticeship levy paying employer, the County Council is able to transfer up to 25% of its annual levy funds to West Sussex businesses to pay for high-quality training for new or existing staff, aiding business development across the county.

With the transfer of levy funds, we hope this will lead to more quality apprenticeships being created as employers are supported to take on apprentices who may not have done so otherwise.

The apprenticeship levy is giving employers a real opportunity to invest in high-quality training, helping to grow their business and get the skilled workforce they need to thrive and succeed.

In April 2021 the Local Government Association reported that West Sussex County Council had committed more than £359k through the Levy Transfer to local businesses, enabling apprenticeships in social care, the third sector, non-maintained schools, digital, engineering, design, retail, hospitality and tourism.

Nationally only around 2% of employers pay the levy but this investment funds more than 40% of the apprenticeship new starts per year. For information on the application criteria and how to apply, visit our apprenticeship levy transfer funding page.

Many local authorities are transferring some of their levy pot to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). You could also contact your local district or borough council business support team to enquire about any additional apprenticeship funding currently available in West Sussex.

Find out about government funding for apprenticeships. If you are a levy-paying employer, you might like to consider transferring left-over funds to help local SMEs.

“I’m a strong advocate of vocational and distance learning. I believe it is essential for all in a position of management to be well informed of change to legislation, trained and educated…to provide a safe, positive, efficient, and high-quality working environment that supports all staff…”

Nathan Saunders, Production Manager
Littlehampton Welding Ltd

National apprenticeship support and information

  • The Government (GOV.UK) website is the 'first point of call' for registered training providers, including large employers with direct grant funding, to post vacancies and manage applications for apprenticeships and traineeships.

  • Find advice and support for employers.

  • The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education is an organisation empowering employers to create high quality apprenticeships, and home of the National Apprenticeship Standards.

  • The Find an Apprenticeship website allows you to search for apprenticeships nationwide. You do not need an account to search but you will need to create one to apply for apprenticeships.

  • The register of apprenticeship training providers is a list of organisations that are eligible to receive government funding to train apprentices.