Work for 300 young people

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Another 300 young people are to be helped into work after a Derbyshire County Council apprenticeship drive was given a £300,000 extension.

Last year the authority gave financial backing to help 200 small businesses across the county take on young people as part of its Derbyshire Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE) scheme.

Every placement was filled within six months – providing young people from Amber Valley and the other seven districts and boroughs in Derbyshire with a career start in a range of occupations including business administration, health and social care, and mechanical engineering.

The scheme was later showcased as an example of best practice at the National Apprenticeship Conference.

Now, the authority has agreed 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 the scheme.

It means grants of £2,500 will be available for employers to take on an apprentice, subject to them 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 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.

For further information contact the National Apprenticeship Service Small Business Unit on 08000 150 600.