A CONTACT lens maker is diverting £117,000 to help small businesses train staff.

CooperVision is allocating money from its apprenticeship levy money to be used by small businesses.

The international company – which has sites in Chandlers Ford, Fareham and Eastleigh – will fund eight apprenticeships at smaller firms.

Under the government’s apprenticeship levy scheme, large employers pay 0.5 per cent of their annual pay bill into a fund for use in training new and existing employees.

Any money they do not spend from that fund can be used to support apprenticeships with smaller employers.

The Transfer to Transform programme, run by Solent Apprenticeship Hub, connects organisations across the region to allow larger companies to support the training needs of smaller businesses.

CooperVision is the first company in the programme to fulfil its pledge.

Jeff Hummel, senior HR director at CooperVision, said: “We’re extremely proud to be able to play a part in supporting other organisations in the region and help enable them develop their apprenticeship training programmes.

“As a large employer, not only in Hampshire but around the World, CooperVision is passionate about creating bright futures and the opportunity to use the Transfer to Transform scheme to support others is something we didn’t hesitate to be a part of.”

Jodi Fair, manager at the Solent Apprenticeship Hub, said: “We are proud to receive the backing of an internationally renowned employer such as CooperVision, who have a base located within the Solent region.

“This brings a weight to the initiative that was needed to receive the support of more levy paying employers.”

CooperVision creates 42 jobs with move to former Ford factory

CooperVision is a division of the CooperCompanies, which was named in September of this year as number one in Europe and number two in the world in Fortune’s Best Large Workplaces in Manufacturing and Production 2020.

Coopervision plans 200 redundancies in Hampshire

Last year, CooperVision revealed plans to make around 200 staff redundant at Hamble and Chandlers Ford. It said the layoffs were because of advances in manufacturing rather than the Covid-19 crisis, and that it would still employ 2,000 people at its Hampshire sites.

The company is part of the global medical device group Cooper Companies, headquartered in San Ramon, California, which sells its products in more than 100 countries.