A community radio station that broadcasts dance and urban music across Greater Manchester is one of a number of Salford organisations benefitting from apprenticeship funding from Sodexo.

North West Media Ltd runs much-loved Unity Radio, which started life as a pirate station in 2001 playing UK Garage, Hip Hop, and Drum and Bass from Moss Side.

Now Unity – which has strong community roots – is based at Media CityUK at Salford Quays and is benefitting from Sodexo’s apprenticeship levy, which is funding an employee taking a Senior Leader degree and employability and skills training for young people that the station supports.

The funding came about after Sodexo was matched to the station via the apprenticeship levy service operated by Salford City Council, which ensures all those that are given work as apprentices are paid at least the living wage by an employer.

The scheme matches small and medium sized employers (SME’s) with larger ‘levy paying’ organisations looking to support apprenticeship training via their levy fund.

They can use this to recruit apprentices or to train and upskill their existing workforce.

Sodexo– which has one of its largest UK regional work bases in Salford – has so far committed £100,000 to organisations in the borough.

Others benefitting include Beis Yaakov School in Salford, which has secured funding for an operations manager Level 5 apprentice and an arborist at a local tree surgery firm. Other local organisations are also in discussions.

Sue Davison, Head of Apprenticeships at Sodexo UK & Ireland, said:

 We’re delighted to be working with Salford City Council to create and support new apprenticeship opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds across Salford. Apprenticeships are vital to bridging the skills gap and creating employment opportunities and the matching service represents a great opportunity for employers to identify those gaps and use levy funds to help fill them. We are pleased to announce that we are helping Unity Radio, which does great work with young people across the communities it serves, as well as others and are currently in discussions with a number of other SMEs and not-for-profits in Salford about how we can help them.

Lee Dinsdale, Director of North West Media, added:

Unity Radio has helped local communities across Greater Manchester, including Salford, for two decades and it is great news to get this apprenticeship grant from Sodexo. The council’s matching scheme has really helped us arrange this link up with a large organisation near where we are based and this will help us to focus our efforts even more on working with young people locally.

Councillor Phil Cusack, Executive Support Member for Skills, Work and Business, Salford City Council said the local authority was delighted to help. He added:

Salford Quays has the second largest cluster of digital and technology businesses in the UK outside London so it’s a key industrial sector for our city. We are delighted to see this partnership with Sodexo giving young people and adults the opportunities, training and skills they need to succeed in a wide range of sectors. Salford is also aiming to become England’s first Real Living Wage city, with more accredited employers uplifting the pay of local people, so ensuring that apprentices receive fair pay for their hard work is also crucial. 

Large businesses such as Sodexo – which employs around 4,000 people across Greater Manchester and more than 40,000 UK wide - can gift up to 25 per cent of its apprenticeship levy to help other organisations.

In February this year, during National Apprenticeship Week it committed to donate £800,000 a year to benefit SME organisations and not-for-profits. 

It seeks to gift with purpose to employers that share the company’s ethos when it comes to health and safety and ensuring their workforce is diverse and inclusive. 

Earlier this year, Sodexo launched its Social Impact Pledge, which included a commitment to contribute to the economic, social and environmental development of the cities, regions and countries in which it works. To date, it has donated more than £1million in apprenticeship levy funding to organisations across the UK since 2019.

For more information visit our social impact page

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