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Government support for apprentice and training schemes

The government has launched a £250 million fund to help firms set up training and apprenticeship schemes.

Next year employers will be invited to bid for a share of the new fund, with £50m up for grabs in the first year and a further £200m in the second year - subject to evidence of high-quality proposals from employers and ongoing evaluation.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills claims the fund will test different approaches, come up with new ways of engaging employees and potential employees, other firms and their supply chains to develop new ways of investing in skills, and working with the further Education and skills sector.

Today’s announcement – open to firms of all sizes - follows yesterday’s promise by business secretary Vince Cable that firms with 50 staff or fewer will be able bid for £1,500 incentive payments to take on apprentices aged 16-24. The measures are expected to support up to 20,000 new apprenticeship starts in 2012/13.

CITB-ConstructionSkills chief executive Mark Farrar said yesterday’s announcement by Cable would prove a welcome boost for the construction industry, which is made up predominately of small firms.

“For many smaller firms and contractors who are eager to take young people into the fold, this could provide the welcome financial relief,” said Farrar.

“It is crucial however, that those SMEs who take up this funding ensure that the quality of apprentices coming into construction is not compromised. For the sector to be in the best possible position to meet future challenges and changes it’s important that we attract the brightest and best into our industry, either via apprenticeships or other routes.”