People 1st has created an Apprenticeship Network to advise businesses preparing for the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in April 2017.

As the workforce development specialist for the visitor economy – including travel and hospitality – People 1st is alerting firms to the fact that the levy will bring “significant change and additional cost to businesses”.

The network offers advice from apprenticeship experts and provides a forum for businesses to share experiences and iron out issues.

It will analyse information as it emerges from government and other organisations on the implementation of the levy, and hold meetings and webinars.

Simon Tarr, chief executive of People 1st, said: “The People 1st Apprenticeship Network will support businesses to face the challenges surrounding implementation of the new system, minimise the potential disruption to their businesses and focus on how apprenticeships can effectively improve performance.

“There is no other organisation in the visitor economy sector that combines our expertise and independence.

“Network membership is open to any visitor economy business although we believe it will be of particular interest to larger businesses with dedicated individuals or teams who are responsible for implementing apprenticeships.

“Smaller businesses may derive greater benefit from our apprenticeship consultancy service.”

Lloyd Thomas, group apprenticeship academy manager for The Co-operative Group, said: “People 1st have done a fantastic job, working with leading employers across the visitor economy, to ensure that the new apprenticeship standards and assessment plans are fit for purpose.

“Having worked closely with them throughout, I know, first-hand, that membership in the network will prove invaluable to employers.”