Grants can help firms to take on apprentice
GRANTS of £1,500 are available to employers to take on their first apprentices.
Plymouth businesses have until the end of March 2013 to grab one of 40,000 Apprenticeship Grants available nationally.
The grants are aimed at helping employers offer opportunities to young job-seekers aged 16 to 18.
The money could be used to help pay the apprentice's wages and the scheme targets businesses recruiting their first apprentices or which have not had one for a year.
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Firms, with up to 1,000 employees, can receive a grant for every apprentice they take on up to a maximum of 10.
Bob Harrison, employer services manager with the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) in Plymouth, said the scheme had been extended.
Previously it was only for firms with up to 250 workers, which had not employed an apprentice for three years.
"The rules have been relaxed," he said. "But it's still "£1,500 for every apprentice.
"That's to get them started. They can use it for whatever they want; it could be for a wage subsidy, to pay for equipment, even if they need a co-ordinator."
Mr Harrison said NAS was working with the Plymouth Manufacturers' Group, the Federation of Small Businesses and Plymouth City Council on promoting the scheme.
He said the apprenticeships could be in any sector and added: "It could be any type of apprentice."
The £1,500 is in addition to the training costs of the apprenticeship, which are met in full for young people aged 16 to 18, and 50 per cent for those aged 19 to 24.
The payment is a grant and therefore exempt from VAT.
Very large employers, with more than 1,000 staff, are not eligible, but NAS is keen to support the take up of apprentices in such firms' supply chain.
Companies claiming the grant must commit to employing the apprentice for a minimum of 12 months or the time it takes to complete the apprenticeship, whichever is greater. The minimum wage for an apprentice is £2.60 per hour, although NAS stressed: "This is a minimum and most employers pay more."
Mr Harrison said: "For employers it could be that little bit of pump priming they need to take on an initial apprentice."
To check if an employer is eligible visit apprenticeships.org.uk or ring NAS on 08000 150600.