The government this week reaffirmed its commitment to developing the nation's skills with the launch of an innovative new trial to develop Apprenticeship Expansion Programmes aimed at increasing current apprenticeship numbers to fill existing skills gaps.
The trials, delivered through the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) will provide participating employers with access to funds of more than £10m over the next three years, in a bid to increase the number of available Apprenticeship vacancies.
The Apprenticeship Expansion Programme trials will provide extra funding to employers who are currently running high-quality Apprenticeships. It aims to develop and test models which will allow employers to recruit and train additional apprentices. The trials will help the apprentices secure employment with employers in the supply chain or elsewhere in the wider sector. This expansion will not only serve to meet the current high demand for apprenticeship positions, but will also prove a key factor in meeting the Government's target of ensuring 400,000 apprentices in England by 2020.
The new funding is available to large businesses and groups of small and medium sized businesses who have a track record of delivering high-quality apprenticeship programmes. Financial support will be available to meet the additional costs associated with the trials such as the wage, training and management costs of learners.
Commenting on the new trial, David Way, national director of apprenticeships at the LSC, said "Given the current economic slowdown it is important that companies continue training their staff to maintain productivity and a competitive edge. Employing apprentices is an ideal way for businesses to position themselves as leaders for the recovery. The new funding will make it easier for businesses to do this and provide the opportunity for industry sectors to successfully fill their existing skills gaps"
Businesses keen to take part in the trial should express their interest and contact the Learning and Skills Council by calling 024 7682 3668 or visiting www.lsc.gov.uk
The deadline for expressions of interest is 16 January 2009.