Marking the start of National Apprenticeship Week, Prime Minister David Cameron, today announced a new round of government funding to support thousands of apprenticeships up to degree equivalent, to help secure much needed skills in industry.
Open to a variety of sectors including aerospace, automotive, energy and renewable technologies, the new £6 million Higher Apprenticeship Fund is now inviting bids from businesses and training providers from across the UK.
“I’m delighted to underline our commitment to strengthen our economy by helping employers to take on apprentices and ensure that the UK workforce has the skills that businesses need,” said Prime Minister David Cameron. “Under this Government, apprenticeship starts are increasing at a record rate with improvements across the age range, in all sectors, throughout the country.”
Mr Cameron also opened the bidding for the new Employer Ownership pilot, inviting employers in England to apply to access up to £250 million of public investment and secure more control over how skills training is designed and delivered.
He also pledged that from this week, small firms will be offered an incentive of £1,500 to hire their first young apprentices. This is expected to support up to 40,000 new apprenticeships over the next year.
Commenting on the up-skilling of the UK’s workforce, Skills Minister John Hayes said, “We must now go further to create new pathways to excellence for the brightest and best young people and help employers to secure the high quality skills they need. Our mission is to put practical training on a level playing field with academic study, creating a highly skilled, creative workforce that can take on the best in the world.”
Data released on 31 January confirms record growth in apprenticeship starts, with some 457,200 starting an apprenticeship in the full 2010/11 academic year, representing a 63.5% increase on 2009/10 figures. According to the National Audit Office, every £1 of public investment in apprenticeships delivers a return of £18 to the wider economy.
Mr Cameron continued, “By making apprenticeships a gold standard option for ambitious young people, we are sending a message that technical excellence is as highly valued as academic prowess.
“And by focusing investment where it is most needed to deliver sustainable growth and offering real ownership of vocational training to employers, we are equipping businesses with the skills they need to rebalance our economy and distribute opportunity more widely.”
This week, SMMT hosted an evening reception to celebrate the wealth of opportunities open to automotive apprentices and the government and industry-led momentum to guide young people towards a rewarding career within the automotive industry.
For more information about how UK automotive is ensuring skills development through the up-take of apprentices into industry, click through the link and download SMMT’s factsheet on skills, apprenticeships and employment in UK automotive.
Photos from SMMT’s National Apprenticeship Week launch event are available to view and download via the slideshow below.