Government funding for apprenticeships still available

Posted on 6 Jan 2012

Semta, the Sector Skills Council for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies, is driving forward plans to increase the number of manufacturing apprentices.

Semta predicts that recruitment demand for manufacturing skills will hit 170,000 over the next five years, and after it secured £5m funding towards meeting this demand, Semta are calling for apprentices to take advantage of the training it can offer.

Semta has teamed up with leading employers and the National Apprenticeship Service to launch the Apprentice Ambition – a 10 point plan designed to take the number of advanced and higher level apprenticeship registrations from 8,000 to 16,000 by 2016 by overcoming the barriers to up-take. The Ambition is specifically designed to make taking on an apprentice easier for all.

As part of the plan, the organisation now offers the Semta Apprenticeship Service where  – at no cost – it can manage the whole process – from advertising a role, assessing specific training needs, and filtering high calibre applicants to securing funding, working with a recognised training provider and ensuring the quality of the programme.

For many SMEs cost is a big barrier so we are delighted that the government is investing record levels of public funds in apprenticeships for all age groups, including the recent announcement of a £1,500 incentive for small businesses taking on their first apprentice.

Semta is working up proposals to help employers in our sectors take advantage of this new support.  Funding pays for all the training of 16-18 year old apprentices and part of the training for older apprentices, while employers pay their salary.  So it’s worth remembering that the National Minimum Wage for apprentices is £2.60 per hour.  Many employers are happy to pay more as apprentices can makes a valuable contribution to business even when they are training on the job.

The work-based training programmes allow people of all ages, from school leavers to experienced workers, to work and learn at the same time by combining technical training with workplace assessment. Apprenticeships are designed by employers, created to meet the specific needs of industry, meaning that the participant acquires skills that are in demand, increasing their employment chances.

Kevin Gardner, managing director at wore and fastener machinery makers Metalform Incorporated, said: “We’ve learned from the skills and knowledge our apprentice gained from his college work. Because he’s computer literate he’s been able to guide us in IT as things are moving faster and faster.”

NVQs or other accreditations can be obtained through Semta’s apprenticeship schemes, which are designed to develop technicians, and address the fundamental skills needs of a wide variety of engineering, manufacturing and assembly and process operators.

Prime Minister David Cameron commented during last year’s Apprenticeship Week that “Apprenticeships offer a fantastic opportunity for people to gain the skills they need for the jobs of the future, equipping the country for our goal to build long-term sustainable growth.”

Mr Cameron added: “We think this is absolutely vital not just to help people into work for the short term but to make sure they can have successful long term careers.”

There are three main levels of apprenticeships available through Semta. There is an Intermediate level, where the participant will become a semi-skilled operator, Advanced apprenticeships at Level 3 leading to technician or skilled craftsperson roles and Higher apprenticeships at Level 4 and above, where the apprentice becomes a technician engineer.

For more information please visit the contact Peter Kealy at The Manufacturer on +44 (0)207 202 4893 or at p.kealy@sayonemedia.com.

National Apprenticeship Week 2012 is due to take place from 6 to 10 February 2012, an initiative designed to raise the profile of the schemes amongst employers, individuals, teachers, parents and the media.