SMMT steps in to save automotive apprenticeships with new Covid salary support scheme for SMEs

28 September 2020 #SMMT News
  • SMMT Charitable Trust Fund (SCTF) announces £100,000 investment to help Covid-hit automotive businesses save apprenticeship jobs as government’s furlough scheme comes to an end.
  • New SMMT Apprentice Support Programme now accepting applications from small and medium automotive firms from across the entire supply chain.
  • Successful applicants will have apprentice salaries all or in part covered for a year, ensuring the sector can retain young talent to help drive future recovery and growth.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) Charitable Trust Fund today launched the SMMT Apprentice Support Programme, designed to help safeguard the jobs of apprentices currently working within the automotive industry. The scheme comes as the government-funded furlough scheme is poised to end in a month’s time, to be replaced by new measures to support short time working.

The SMMT Apprentice Support Programme earmarks £100,000 to cover all or part of the salaries of apprentices currently employed by small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) within the UK automotive industry, but whose positions are at risk of redundancy due to Covid-19 related business pressures.

There are currently some 59,000 young people employed in apprenticeship positions across the sector,1 and they play a vital role in the future growth of businesses throughout the entire automotive supply chain. Investing in skill retention helps secure a pipeline of top talent for the future, ensuring a line of succession and a return on investment for businesses that have already hired apprentices before the pandemic hit. For an industry built on decades of innovation, developing a future generation of experts is crucial for the long-term growth and success of the sector.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

The UK Automotive industry is built on decades of craftsmanship, engineering excellence and innovation delivered by a highly skilled workforce – and its long-term recovery and growth will depend on retaining and developing this skills base. That’s why it’s so important that we do everything possible to ensure that we don’t let young talent slip through our hands as we strive to overcome the current crisis. Today’s apprentices are tomorrow’s leaders, and this scheme will help protect their jobs now so that they can help drive our future success.

Gareth Jones, Chairman of the SMMT Charitable Trust Fund, said,

As a former technical apprentice myself I can only imagine the devastating impact of losing your apprenticeship, particularly if you are close to completing your qualification. This timely and much needed initiative from the STCF will provide critical and well targeted support to ensure we retain some fantastic talent and potential in our industry.

Focused particularly on SMEs that are struggling to retain apprentices in the current climate, the scheme aims to secure existing young talent within their businesses, by covering their salaries either in full or in part for up to a year. The scheme is open to SMMT member companies and, to ensure the sector’s commitment to safeguarding these jobs, requires successful applicants to make a contribution towards the full £14,000 apprentice salary2 as business needs permit, in order to unlock a stipend as made available by the SMMT Charitable Trust Fund.

Key criteria for a successful application

Applicants must be able to:

1. demonstrate that without the funding, the business would be forced to discontinue the apprenticeship.
2. detail how the chosen candidate will add to the long-term success of the business, stipulating their potential prospects and career path beyond the apprenticeship training.
3. Submit a personal statement from the chosen candidate as part of the application.

Applications for the SMMT Apprentice Support Programme are open to all small and medium sized companies from today. To find our more and to apply, please visit:

The deadline for all applications is 31 October 2020.

Notes to editors

1. SMMT Motor Industry Facts; Semta 2018 data.
2. £14,040 is the average Apprentice Automotive Technician salary in 2020. Source:

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