Hartlepool gives the thumbs-up to plans for more apprentices

Hartlepool College of Further Education principal Darren Hankey.
Hartlepool College of Further Education principal Darren Hankey.

A Hartlepool college principal has welcomed a new scheme which helps small businesses to recruit young apprentices.

The Tees Valley Combined Authority is one of only five organisations of its kind to receive funding to deliver a grant scheme to help small firms boost their workforce.

It will create more quality apprenticeships for our young people and provide employment and learning opportunities that will stand Tees Valley in good stead for the future

Christopher Akers-Belcher

Organisers are hoping 700 places could be set up under the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers 16-24 (AGE) scheme.

It provides funding of up to £3,500 for businesses so that they can employ people aged 16-24. It is aimed at businesses which would otherwise not have been in a position to employ an apprentice.

Hartlepool College of Further Education principal Darren Hankey said it was “a great opportunity” for small and medium sized firms. He said the college was “happy to help any organisation wishing to recruit apprentices.

“With the quality we provide and the funds available from Tees Valley Combined Authority, there has never been a better time for organisations to recruit apprentices.”

Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher, the lead member for skills for Tees Valley Combined Authority, also welcomed the new scheme and the way it had come about through the devolution process.

He said: “The devolving of the AGE grant to the Combined Authority will create significant opportunities for our smaller employers, in that we can be more flexible with the eligibility and features of a local scheme to make it available to as many Tees Valley businesses as possible.

“It will create more quality apprenticeships for our young people and provide employment and learning opportunities that will stand Tees Valley in good stead for the future.”

Mr Hankey said: “This grant has been held at the national level for a number of years and it is one of a raft of central funds devolved down to local economic areas as a part of the wider devolution process.”

The scheme is available only to those working to approved apprenticeship ‘Frameworks’.

Hartlepool College of Further Education was recently named as the second best apprenticeship provider in the UK,