£1,500 government grant set to boost business and chances for young people

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Small and medium sized businesses looking to take on a young apprentice have been given a boost as the National Apprenticeship Service has announced moves to help even more employers recruit an apprentice and increase opportunities for young people.

The government has confirmed an extension of the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers of 16-24 year olds (AGE 16-24) until March 2014. The £1,500 grant is available to help eligible businesses with less than 1,000 employees take on between one and ten apprentices aged 16-24.

Neil Peters, Commercial Director at East Berkshire College, welcomes the news: "With a growing range of apprenticeship courses and funding available, there's never been a better time for businesses to take on an apprentice. Many employers are finding apprenticeships are a great cost-effective way to recruit fresh talent, address future skills gaps, increase staff retention and improve bottom line.

"At East Berkshire College, we support the employer and the apprentice. We have more than 35 years of experience in delivering high quality training and our free apprentice matching service ensures businesses find the right individual and vice versa."

Marketing solutions company, Surefoot Communications in Burnham is one of a number of local businesses to employ their first apprentice and take advantage of the government grant.

Karl Austen, Director of Surefoot Communications, explains: "We recruited our first apprentice six months ago as we wanted someone who could grow with the company. I had heard a lot about apprenticeships in the news, but East Berkshire College was able to explain the process and the funding available to us. Being able to access this additional grant made our decision to hire an apprentice much easier and we are pleased we did. As an employer, we have found an apprentice offers us greater flexibility and their energy combined with their willingness to learn is a definite benefit."

Apprenticeships are also providing young people with a great opportunity to kick-start their careers. Catriona McGill is one of four individuals benefiting from a two-year higher apprenticeship scheme at Oracle Corporation in Reading:

"I'm so pleased I applied for the apprenticeship as it really is the best of both worlds. Oracle and the College work together to ensure what I am learning is relevant to what I am doing at work. This means when I complete my apprenticeship, I'll not only have gained an HND qualification, but I'll also have the experience to go with it."

East Berkshire College trains hundreds of apprentices every year, in subjects from engineering to catering, and helps businesses recruit apprentices.

As well as the more traditional trade-based apprenticeships, the College now offers a range of new apprenticeships in areas such as Business Administration, Accounting, Customer Service, IT, Health & Social Care and Hospitality & Catering. An increasing range of new higher apprenticeships (Level 4) are also available.

Local businesses interested in taking on an apprentice, can contact East Berkshire College's Business Services team on 01753 443855.

For individuals interested in an apprenticeship call 0845 373 2500 or click here.


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