Close Brothers has announced the launch of phase two of its SME Apprenticeship Programme, in partnership with EEF and the Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA).
With the skills gap weighing heavily on the UK manufacturing sector, the scheme helps SMEs overcome the issues of cost and red tape in order to take on an apprentice and invest in a new generation of skilled workers.
Through its partnership with EEF and MTA, Close Brothers will select 20 manufacturing SMEs in the Birmingham area that need support in hiring a local apprentice to help answer their business needs.
It will assist in recruiting and paying for 20 apprentices – one for each SME, helping to alleviate cost concerns by funding half of the apprentices’ wages in the first year and a quarter in the second.
The apprentices will be trained at EEF’s advanced technology training centre in Aston, near Birmingham, which is at the forefront of new manufacturing and engineering technologies.
Here, they will learn both traditional and the most cutting-edge techniques that will fully equip them for a sustainable and exciting career in modern industry.
The technology training centre was officially opened in April 2014, by local MP Khalid Mahmood. In November last year it unveiled further investment of £2m into providing nine additional new training sections containing £700,000 of high-tech equipment.
A further £5m investment is going into the centre this year, which is to expand into a second site and increase the number of apprentices it trains from 250 to more than 400 a year.
Applications are now open for SMEs to apply to join the apprenticeship scheme and successful companies will be announced the week of July 4.
That same week, applications will open for apprentice candidates, with a launch event held at EEF in Birmingham the following week. Successful apprenticeship candidates will be announced at the end of August, ready for enrolment at the start of September.
This second phase of the Close Brothers SME Apprenticeship Programme will build on the success of last year’s roll-out, which helped 20 SMEs in Sheffield to recruit an apprentice.
These apprentices are being trained at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in Sheffield. By phase three – next year – Close Brothers hopes to be supporting up to 60 SMEs through its unique programme.
Chief executive of Close Brothers Banking Division, Stephen Hodges commented: “We know from our work with our SME manufacturing clients that there is an urgent need to recruit and train a new generation of skilled workers.
“We want our pioneering scheme to act as a model for helping SMEs hire young talent, without the barriers of cost and red tape, so they can unlock potential through investing in the new generation of skilled workers.”
Chief executive of EEF, Terry Scuoler said: “Three quarters of UK manufacturers have struggled to recruit skilled workers in the last three years.
“The skills crunch affecting our sector is critical and is forcing firms to contend with issues over both the quantity and quality of skills available to them.
“This innovative scheme therefore ticks two big boxes. It is not only helping SMEs to find and fund a talented apprentice to help their business grow, but it is also helping to inject fresh blood into our sector’s skills pool.”