OWNERS of Fawley refinery have pledged their support for young people and small enterprises across the Solent area by backing the Transfer to Transform scheme.

ExxonMobil runs the 59-year-old petro-chemical complex, which is the largest refinery in the UK and one of the most complex in Europe.

Transfer to Transform allows major employers to use unspent money from the apprenticeship levy to help small to medium-sized enterprises, known as SMEs.

The cash helps SMEs cover the cost of apprenticeship training, enabling them to take on and train new staff.

Having backed the government’s apprenticeship programme for decades, ExxonMobil has agreed to give £85,000 of its apprenticeship levy funding to the scheme.

Transfer to Transform aims to create much-needed investment in young people and skills.

ExxonMobil’s involvement brings the total amount pledged to the scheme to £850,000, which will be used to boost apprenticeship activity across the region.

Beth Varndell, ExxonMobil’s Fawley training manager said: “The apprenticeship programme is very important to providing our young people with the skills they need.

“ExxonMobil Fawley is thrilled to be able to support the Transfer to Transform scheme.

“We very much hope our pledge will help put people on the ladder to a successful career by offering them the opportunity to begin a brand-new apprenticeship.

“In addition, we are delighted that Transfer to Transform will give much-needed support to local businesses and educational providers.”

Organisations involved in the scheme include Southampton City Council.

Cllr Darren Paffey, cabinet member for children and learning, said: “Through Transfer to Transform we expect to see a much-needed boost to apprenticeship provision across the region, helping to strengthen and support the local economy in these turbulent times.”