Extension for apprenticeship grant scheme
THE Government has extended the £1,500 apprenticeship grant given to employers for each apprentice aged 16 to 24 they take on.
The grant is available to help businesses with up to 1,000 employees, increased from 250, to take on an apprentice.
Initially it was only on offer during the 2012/13 financial year, but the funding has been extended following a positive response from employers.
It has also been increased, so eligible employers can claim the grant for up to 10 apprentices instead of just three.
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Bob Harrison, employer accounts manager for the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) in Plymouth, said: "The Government has recognised that the age incentive has attracted more employers into taking on an apprentice."
He said bumping the number of apprentices allowed under the scheme from three to 10 would give larger companies an incentive to, for instance, use a combined £15,000 grant to employ an apprentice co-ordinator to look after a team of apprentices.
He said apprenticeships have been a hit with Plymouth companies and added: "Plymouth has been very good and the number of employers taking apprentices on has been increasing on a month-by-month basis.
"This is as employers realise the benefits there will be for their companies to improve their skills base."
Mr Harrison said the grant was not intended as a sweetener to encourage firms to make the decision to take on an apprentice, but stressed it could help with the initial costs of taking a young person on under the scheme.
"For example, it could pay for tools or protective equipment," he said. "Or it could pay towards the apprentice's wages.
"It's for the employers to spend the grant as per their needs."
Business Secretary Vince Cable was keen to promote the extension too and said: "I know it can be a big decision for busy, small companies to take on an apprentice.
"Employers may be concerned about the time recruitment and training will take, and anxious about how it will work.
"So the £1,500 grant is a token to acknowledge this and thank employers.
"I hope many more people will take us up on our cash incentive to grow their business, and train up the workforce of the future."
David Way, chief executive of the NAS, said: "We know many businesses believe apprenticeships deliver the skills needed for growth so we are delighted 'AGE 16-24' has been positively received by employers for helping them to do just that.
"Apprenticeships come with a guarantee of quality, giving young people a job with training, and are proven to deliver a significant return on investment, so this really is a win-win initiative for employers.
"There has never been a better time to recruit an apprentice, so I hope more organisations will look at how they can benefit from this grant over the coming 12 months and reap the rewards of a more motivated, skilled and qualified workforce."
To learn more about apprenticeships and the AGE 16 -24 grant, or to search for a vacancy, visit the website apprenticeships.org.uk or call NAS on 08000 150600.