Grants for small businesses employing their first apprentice now available

EMPLOYERS across England are being encouraged to take advantage of a new funding initiative to help them recruit their first young apprentices.

The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) is offering up to 40,000 Apprenticeship Grants to small and medium sized businesses (employing less than 250 employees), to the value of £1,500, that recruit their first apprentice aged 16 to 24 years old.

Last year, despite difficult labour market conditions, over 275,000 16-24 year olds started an Apprenticeship, including 39,760 in the East of England, but the Government is keen that many more young people are given the opportunity to benefit and take their first steps on the career ladder.

As Karen Woodward, NAS Divisional Area Director (Central) explains: “For a strong and growing economy we must have a high level of skills to meet employer demand and Apprenticeships are a vital way of achieving this.

“The grant is designed to encourage employers who have identified funding as a barrier to recruiting an apprentice to now get involved, ultimately increasing the number and range of high quality Apprenticeship opportunities available for young people.”

Small and medium sized businesses across all sectors that have not employed an apprentice in the last three years may be eligible.

The £1,500 grant, known as AGE 16 to 24, is in addition to the training costs of the chosen Apprenticeship framework which are met in full for 16-18 year olds and 50 per cent for those aged 19-24.

Employers will be required to commit to employing an apprentice for a minimum of 12 months, or the time it takes for the apprentice to complete their programme.

The network of quality assured approved Apprenticeship training providers will support the employer through the whole process, including placing their vacancy on Apprenticeship vacancies, the official free online recruitment service for Apprenticeships in England managed by NAS.

They will also check the employers’ eligibility, devise the right training plan for the business and claim the grant on behalf of the employer.

Karen Woodward continued: “I would encourage all East of England small and medium sized businesses considering recruiting an apprentice for the first time to find out more about the grant.

“There has never been a better time for employers to introduce Apprenticeships to their business and see first hand the positive impact they can have on the workforce and profitability, and at the same time provide life changing employment and progression opportunities for young people in this region.”

Small or medium sized businesses interested in employing their first apprentice can contact one of the quality assured training providers or colleges approved to deliver Apprenticeship training direct by clicking on http://apprenticeshipvacancymatchingservice.lsc.gov.uk/navms/forms/Vacancy/SearchProvider.aspx

Alternatively they can visit www.apprenticeships.org.uk for more information, or if they are ready to recruit, can call 08000-150600 to speak to a NAS Apprenticeship Adviser.