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SMEs given more support to offer apprenticeships


Small and medium sized businesses will receive more support to offer apprenticeships after the Government today announced plans to enable increased access to funding. Employers will also receive a new level of support from the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS).

Government confirmed an extension of the Apprenticeship Grant for employers of 16-24 year olds to March 2014. The £1,500 grant is available to help businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees take on an apprentice.

The grant funding was initially only available during the 2012/13 financial year, but it has been extended following a positive response from employers. The level of funding available under the grant has also been increased, so eligible employers can claim the grant for up to ten apprentices.

Business secretary, Vince Cable said: "I know it can be a big decision for busy, small companies to take on an apprentice. Employers may be concerned about the time recruitment and training will take, and anxious about how it will work. 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 NAS, said: "We know that many businesses believe Apprenticeships deliver the skills needed for growth so we are delighted AGE 16-24 has been positively received by employers for helping them to do just that.

"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."

Way added: "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."

To further support businesses, the NAS has announced a minimum level of support employers can expect from the Service. A new service standard offers an end-to-end commitment by NAS to responsiveness during initial call handling, to analysing need, referral to providers and an after-service follow up review from their dedicated team.

Providers who receive referrals as part of the service from the NAS will by implication also be signing up to the minimum expectations especially in terms of responding promptly to the referred employers, posting information to the

Apprenticeship vacancies system and in terms of ongoing support that will be monitored by NAS.