Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) looking to take on apprentices will be offered additional support under a new government scheme.
The National Apprenticeship Service is extending the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers of 16-24 year olds (AGE 16-24) to March 2014.
Launched for the 2012-13 financial year, the £1,500 grant is available to help businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees take on an apprentice.
The scheme was due to end in April this year but has now been extended following a positive response from employers.
It has also been increased, so eligible employers can claim the grant for up to ten apprentices - giving them the chance to grow their enterprises while investing in the workforce of tomorrow.
Apprenticeships 'help SMBs grow'
Business Secretary Vince Cable said it can be "a big decision" for busy SMBs to take on an apprentice.
"Employers may be concerned about the time recruitment and training will take, and anxious about how it will work," he stated.
"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 National Apprenticeship Service, commented that many SMBs see this form of employment and development as being a route to growth.
"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," he stated.
"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."
Case study: Solihull Dental Practice
Dr Tehir Nadeem, owner of the Solihull Dental Practice, was one of the first SMB owners to take advantage of the AGE 16-24 grant.
He said the additional finance has made the worthwhile decision to hire an apprentice "even more cost effective".
Dr Nadeem explained how, for his enterprise, the grant helped meet the costs of taking on a new member of staff and integrating them into the business.
"In effect the grant is being re-invested into the business, to help it grow," he noted.
Posted by Sarah Parish