A further 300 young people are to be helped into work through the £300,000 extension of a nationally-acclaimed Derbyshire County Council apprenticeship drive.
Earlier this year the county council gave financial backing to help 200 small businesses across the county take on apprentices in its Derbyshire Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE) scheme.
The drive was a huge success and every placement filled within six months – providing young people from each of the county’s eight districts and boroughs with a career start in a range of occupations including business administration, health and social care, and mechanical engineering.
And the county council’s vision was showcased as an example of best practice for others to follow at the National Apprenticeship Conference earlier this year.
The authority has agreed to extend the scheme by pledging £300,000 to support Derbyshire businesses to create a further 300 apprenticeships for 16-24 year olds by the end of March 2013. It means a total of 500 private sector apprenticeships will have been supported.
Councillor Kevin Parkinson, Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “Our Derbyshire Age Grants for Employers scheme has been a huge success – providing support for employers and young people in every single district of Derbyshire.
“I am delighted to announce the extension of the scheme, meaning another 300 young people will be given the opportunity to start out in a new career and develop skills our businesses value.
“Small businesses play a vital role in the Derbyshire economy and we’re committed to supporting them to grow and help our communities thrive.”
The county council has joined forces with the National Apprenticeship Service to extend its Derbyshire County Council AGE Grant Scheme.
It means grants of £2,500 will continue to be available for employers to take on an apprentice, subject to meeting the scheme’s criteria.
Initially the scheme will target businesses employing 16-18 year old apprentices, but can be extended to 19-24 year olds where appropriate.
It will target businesses employing less than 250 employees, with the flexibility to extend to businesses employing up to 1,000 staff.
Councillor Parkinson added: “It is the ability to design flexible local schemes which won us national acclaim – responding to employers’ needs rather than centralised regimes which are often inflexible to engage.”
The Derbyshire AGE Grant scheme is running alongside the county council’s drive to create 500 apprenticeships in its own workforce over four years as part of its succession planning. Over 100 have already begun placements with the authority during the first year.
Businesses will be able to apply for funding through the Derbyshire AGE Grants scheme from January 2013. For further information contact the National Apprenticeship Service Small Business Unit on 08000 150 600.