Simpler grants are a welcome boost

The latest Government announcement making apprenticeship grants available to more employers will give a welcome boost to SMEs in the building services engineering sector, says SummitSkills, the sector skills council for the building services engineering sector.

Announced by Skills Minister John Hayes in response to the Holt Review, the Government is relaxing the restrictions on its Apprenticeship Grants for Employers (AGE) scheme, enabling SMEs who have previously taken on apprentices to benefit from the £1500 financial support, as well as those who have never taken on an apprentice before.

The Government’s Apprenticeship Grants for Employers (AGE) scheme provides up to 40,000 grants to encourage and support employers taking on a young apprentice aged 16 to 24. The upper limit on the size of qualifying employers has also now been increased from up to 250 staff to those SMEs with up to 1,000 staff. Payment which used to take place in two instalments will now be made all at once and employers can claim grants for up to ten new apprentices.

Keith Marshall OBE, Chief Executive of SummitSkills (pictured), said: “These changes to the AGE scheme will contribute to the creation of more apprenticeships and we welcome the Government’s quick action in response to the findings of the Holt Review.”

Financial pressure

He continued: “Our sector needs to invest in creating a pipeline of talented people to protect its future, but this is a difficult message for many employers to hear at the moment when they are under such financial pressure. Easier access to this grant may well be the catalyst to tip an employer’s decision toward taking on an apprentice as an investment for the future.”

John Hayes’ announcement was made following the publication of the Holt Review – an examination by jeweller and social entrepreneur Jason Holt of ways to make apprenticeships simpler and more accessible for small and medium size businesses.

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