Industry welcomes government investment in apprenticeships

The food industry has welcomed plans by the government to invest a further £85m in the Apprenticeship Grants for Employers (AGE) scheme, as announced by Chancellor George Osborne in his Budget speech yesterday (19 March).

The government said: “Apprenticeships play a vital role in equipping young people with the skills they need to compete in the labour market, and that employers need to grow their businesses.”

The additional funding, in both 2014-15 and 2015-16, will enabling more than 100,000 grants to be awarded to employers.

Keith Fisher, chief executive, at the Meat Trading Council, said: “The Meat Training Council (MTC) welcomes this government announcement, as we welcome all initiatives which help bring fresh talent into the meat industry.

“I urge meat businesses, large and small, to take advantage of the government’s commitment to apprenticeship programmes by considering bringing apprentices into their own business. Our experience of meat and poultry apprentices is incredibly positive. These young people bring enthusiasm, commitment, skill and talent with them.

“Our sister company, professional body The Institute of Meat (IoM) is currently contributing to employer-led trail-blazers, which are working to build on the business benefits that can be achieved through apprenticeships in butchery.”

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) also welcomed the apprenticeship funding initiative, as well as the government’s proposals for Carbon Price Support to be frozen.

Melanie Leech, director general at the FDF, said: “The Chancellor has listened to our growing concerns on the impact of increasing energy prices on the competitiveness of food and drink.

“The adoption of our recommendation for Carbon Price Support (CPS) to be frozen will help all manufacturers in our sector while the exemption of industrial Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants from CPS for the on-site generation of electricity will benefit existing and new users of the technology, which is in widespread use throughout our sector.

“These changes will provide welcome relief to businesses, large and small, throughout the UK’s largest manufacturing sector and reward those who invest in energy-efficient technologies.”

Leech added that the plans to double the Annual Investment Allowance, first introduced in early 2013, will further boost business confidence and investment.

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