FIRMS and young people are to be given a boost thanks to the Government agreeing to extend apprenticeship funding.
The Government has confirmed there will be an extension of the Apprenticeship Grant for employers of 16 to 24-year-olds, making the AGE 16-24 scheme run to March 2014.
The £1,500 grant is available to help businesses with less than 1,000 employees, or small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), to take on an apprentice and the grant can be used to take on up to 10 apprentices, meaning up to £15,000 is up for grabs for firms.
The grant was originally only on offer during the 2012/13 financial year, but funding has been extended after a positive response from employers.
Business Secretary Vince Cable 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.”
Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond welcomed the announcement and said Hartlepool Borough Council will help promote the news to local employers and urged businesses to think about taking up the grant.
But he said: “It’s not just a cash incentive that’s needed to increase the number of apprenticeships, the Government needs to make a bigger package of support, which isn’t available with these schemes.”
David Way, chief executive of the National Apprenticeship Service, said: “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.”
The news will come as a welcome boost to jobseekers and businesses in Hartlepool, where the town has the third highest proportion of long-term Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants, as reported by the Hartlepool Mail on Monday.
Latest jobless figures show there were 1,450 young Hartlepool people aged 18 to 24 claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in November, which is 17.4 per cent of the town’s working age population.
The Hartlepool Mail launched its Work In Progress campaign in February last year to help people into work and highlight the plight of the unemployed.
To find out more about apprenticeships and AGE 16-24 visit apprenticeships.org.uk or call 08000 150600.