Government launches National Apprenticeship Week, which aims to show that employers are recruiting apprentices and the benefits of becoming an apprentice.
Some big UK employers are expecting to hire thousands of apprentices in 2010 and the government is encouraging all businesses to take up the new Apprentice Grant for Employers (AGE) scheme offering a £2,500 grant for each 16 or 17-year old apprentice recruited. The scheme is aimed at small businesses which would not otherwise be able to afford to take someone on.
Training of 16-18 year apprentices is 100% government funded, says the scheme’s operator the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS).
Business Minister Pat McFadden, is launching the event at a Morrisons supermarket in Camden, London today. Morrisons has committed to make 5,500 Government-funded apprenticeship places available by July 2010.
“For so many businesses to be planning to recruit in 2010 is good news for the whole economy,” said McFadden. “It shows employers are recognising the benefits they get from hiring apprentices. Undertaking an apprenticeship is a great way of learning a trade and gaining vocational experience. In 1997 apprenticeships had dwindled as a route for people to gain new skills, today we have 239,900 starting Apprenticeships and businesses of all sizes are reaping the rewards of having a highly skilled workforce.
In January 2009 Prime Minister Gordon Brown pledged £140m to support new apprenticeships. He committed to 35,000 more apprenticeship starts across all industry sectors in 2009/2010 compared with 2008/09, bringing the total to over 260,000 apprenticeships. NAS says 37,000 of the nearly 240,000 starts are in the manufacturing sector, up from 33,100 five years ago.
Morrisons will be creating more than 20,000 Apprenticeships in the next year. Other big UK employers making a commitment to Apprenticeships this week include Crossrail, which has pledged to take on 400 apprentices in 2010 through its contractors, and retailer B&Q which has said it aims to double its apprenticeship intake to 300 this September.
Research commissioned through the NAS and the British Chambers of Commerce shows that more than three in five UK companies plan to recruit this year, while 62% of businesses who employ apprentices said they made a positive contribution during the recession.
According to the research drive and enthusiasm is the trait most prized by employers (83%) while having skills that the business will need in the future is also sought after (71%).
“The time is absolutely right for businesses of all sizes to take on apprentices,” said Simon Waugh, chief executive of the National Apprenticeship Service “Our research shows that firms who take on apprentices have been in great shape to face the downturn. Last year saw a seven per cent increase in apprentices.”
David Frost from the British Chambers of Commerce said he would “strongly advise their members, and indeed all businesses, to consider apprenticeships as part of their recruitment strategy.”
Call NAS on 08000 150 600 and for more information check www.apprenticeships.org.uk/.