AS THE Cheshire and Warrington 300 in 100 Apprenticeship Campaign approaches the halfway stage, the Government has announced it will increase awareness among small and medium enterprises (SMEs) of the benefits of apprenticeships, and make support for small businesses taking on apprentices simpler and more accessible, thanks to a report from jeweller and social entrepreneur Jason Holt.
David Way, chief executive of the National Apprenticeship Service, said: “Most apprenticeships in this country are offered by SMEs. They are great advocates and deliverers of skills training and have given so many young people life-changing experiences as they enter work for the first time.
“But we need to do much more if we are to offer all of those who want apprenticeships these same high quality opportunities.
“Jason Holt’s review affords us a valuable insight into apprenticeships from the perspective of SMEs. It sets out what more we can do to encourage many more businesses to become involved with apprenticeships.
“These recommendations give us the opportunity to refresh and streamline our service for small employers. In particular the report has highlighted that we need to make employers more aware of the support that the National Apprenticeship Service and others can offer SMEs to make the taking on of apprentices much easier.
“There is a lot of momentum at present behind ensuring employers feel real ownership of Apprenticeships.
“Taking on board what SMEs are telling us means we can be more confident that apprenticeship programmes meet their needs. We will simplify and speed up the process so that smaller organisations do not feel overwhelmed by bureaucracy.
“This will start with a revised Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE) of a single £1,500 payment to help small and medium-sized employers recruit apprentices.
“The grant will now be available for up to 10 apprentices and medium sized companies with up to 1,000 employers can now benefit. This incentive scheme is critical in helping up to 40,000 employers to take on apprentices aged 16 to 24 in their business.”
The AGE 16 to 24 grant is aimed at helping eligible employers to offer employment through the apprenticeship programme, by providing wage grants to assist employers in recruiting a young apprentice.
The National Apprenticeship Service will provide up to 40,000 apprenticeship grants to employers with up to 1000 employees recruiting 16 to 24-year-olds with a value of £1,500, to encourage employers to take on new apprentices.
The £1,500 is in addition to the training costs of the apprenticeship framework which are met in full for young people aged 16 to 18 and 50% for those aged 19 to 24.
Subject to budget availability and the employer’s commitment to support the apprentice to the end of their programme, up to ten grants can be made to any one employer.
Eligible employers are those who have never employed an apprentice before, or who have not been in a position within the last 12 months to commit to employing an apprentice again.
Very large employers (more than 1,000 employees) are not eligible for support through this initiative. But we do want to encourage take up within their supply chains.
The National Apprenticeship Service can provide a dedicated service to employers, offering free, expert advice and support to those looking to recruit apprentices for the first time, or expand their existing Apprenticeship programme.
If you are a business owner and would like to find out more about the campaign you can e-mail email@example.com or telephone Clare McCourt, employer account adviser at the National Apprenticeship Service, on 07884 474620.