Businesses across Staffordshire are being urged to apply for funding of up to £5,000 to take on an apprentice as part of a new campaign.
The “Now’s your time to recruit an apprentice for less” campaign is making up to £5,000 available to small businesses towards the cost of taking on an apprentice.
The funding is part of the Staffordshire £5 million Back to Business scheme and is available in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Tamworth, South Staffordshire, Lichfield and Cannock.
Alun Rogers, chairman of the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Developing a skilled workforce is absolutely critical to competitive businesses and a growing economy, and more and more businesses are recognising this.
“Apprenticeships are not just about learning trades, they’re available in many professional and skilled areas, such as information technology, business improvement, customer service, management and retail to name just a few.
“Apprentices are extremely capable, they’re not people who didn’t get the grades, they’re ambitious, career focused and keen to learn and earn at the same time. They’re also in for the long-term too, so investing in them will pay off.
“Our business support apprenticeship helpline is standing by with advice on accessing the funding, as well as information on the benefits of taking on an apprentice. I would urge eligible small businesses to get in touch.”
The campaign launch comes as apprentices from across Staffordshire celebrated with employers and training providers at a special event to mark their achievements.
Now in their sixth year, the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Local Enterprise Partnership Apprenticeship Graduation Awards highlight the quality and range of apprentices and their contribution to the local economy.
And more than 100 apprentices graduated at the awards which were held at the County Showground in Stafford.
Among the 100-plus graduates was James Miller who completed his Level 3 accounting apprenticeship with DJH Mitten Clarke through Newcastle-under-Lyme College.
James said: “I’ve really enjoyed doing my apprenticeship, getting the chance to get a qualification, learn the practical skills I’ll need in the sector and getting paid all at the same time has been great.
“In the future I’ll be then moving on to complete my Level 4 and after that I’ll be doing professional exams.
“Apprenticeships are a great option for people looking to develop their career and good for employers too. I would definitely urge people to consider them as an option.”
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Philip White, cabinet member for economy and skills at Staffordshire County Council, congratulated apprentices and urged employers to take advantage of the support and funding available to help grow their business.
Philip said: “It really is vital we have a good supply of talented workers, with the skills that our employers need to grow our economy, and apprenticeships are key to this.
“For apprentices, it’s a great way of kick starting or improving their careers and for businesses, there’s never been a better time to start-up, revitalise or future-proof your company than right here and now in Staffordshire.
“Upskilling your workforce to make sure that your business has the skill base it needs for the future is no longer a nice to have, it’s essential.
“Whatever stage your business is at, one of the best ways of future-proofing is by taking on an apprentice – and through our new fund we can help you do that.”