Firms’ cash boost for apprentices

A funding pot of £11.75m available to Northumberland businesses looking to take on apprentices and upskilling current employees was announced this week.

The funding, awarded to Northumberland development company Arch, from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund, makes up to £15,000 available to qualifying employers.

Grants4Growth Launch event at Ashington College-local employers offered up to �15,000 to hire an apprentice (left to right) Stuart Cutforth-College Principal, Megan Henderson-SEMTA, Debra Lowes-Northumberland County Council, Lisa Mood-College, Kate Race-ARCH and Lisa Waller-Zenith People.'REF 1206130016

Grants4Growth Launch event at Ashington College-local employers offered up to �15,000 to hire an apprentice (left to right) Stuart Cutforth-College Principal, Megan Henderson-SEMTA, Debra Lowes-Northumberland County Council, Lisa Mood-College, Kate Race-ARCH and Lisa Waller-Zenith People.'REF 1206130016

And on Wednesday, representatives of engineering and manufacturing companies gathered at a breakfast meeting held at Northumberland College’s Ashington campus, to learn more.

The college has joined forces with Arch, as well as Semta, the sector skills council for science, engineering and advanced manufacturing, to explain the Grants4Growth scheme, which also allows employers to assess apprentices before taking them on.

One of the speakers, Lynemouth Power Ltd’s managing director Bob Huntington said the college’s dedicated team had provided invaluable support when the company took on its current two apprentices and he said the announcement was positive for the engineering and manufacturing sector as a whole.

Semta apprenticeship director Bill Twigg said: “Currently, 27 per cent of engineering and advanced manufacturing companies take on apprentices in the north east.

“If we are to address the skills challenge, we need to get half of all firms in the sector running apprenticeships.

“It was encouraging to see so many businesses at this event, who we can support in many ways to ensure they have a highly skilled workforce ready to take advantage of the opportunities for growth.”

Northumberland College principal Stuart Cutforth, himself a former apprentice, said: “It’s great that so many businesses attended today’s event and I encourage others to get in touch to find out more about the funding and the services the college offers.”