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Berkshire, 25th October, 2012, The Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (TVB LEP), in partnership with National Apprenticeship Service, today announced that recent changes to the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE) has considerably increased the number of grants available to businesses in the Thames Valley Berkshire area. TVB LEP now has an allocation of 165 grants available, worth £250 thousand pounds, which must be claimed before March 2013.

“With considerable rises in University tuition fees and more competition for graduate level employment, it is essential that this generation does not fall short because of a lack of education and skills, with limited opportunities to learn and grow in real-world environments. These grants are a great initiative, as individuals with the skills for vocational and specialist careers can be now be accepted onto Apprenticeship schemes more than ever before. We encourage Thames Valley Berkshire businesses to support this programme, apply for the funding and together we can grow the UK’s economy by developing the skills from within,” comments David Knowles-Leak, Chair of the Education, Employment and Skills Forum, TVB LEP.

The grant targets individuals aged 16 to 24 and is aimed at helping eligible employers offer young people opportunities to enter the workforce through Apprenticeship programmes; providing wage grants to assist employers in recruitment. The National Apprenticeship Service will provide Apprenticeship grants to employers with up to 1000 employees recruiting 16 to 24 year olds to the value of £1,500. The £1,500 is in addition to the training costs of the Apprenticeship framework, which is paid in full for young people aged 16 to 18 and 50% is subsidised for those aged 19 to 24.

Charlie Roberts, Head of Department, Workforce Development & Enterprise at Bracknell and Wokingham College, comments:

"So far our Apprenticeship team has been able to secure the grant for 23 employers with several more in the pipeline. It is encouraging that interest is spread across the range of frameworks we offer and we can’t stress enough how simple it is for businesses, no matter how small, to engage with Apprenticeship programmes now that extra funding is available.”

Eligible employers are those who have never employed an apprentice before or have not been in a position within the last 12 months to commit to employing an apprentice again. Currently large companies (with more than 1000 employees) are not eligible for support through this initiative. However, TVB LEP encourages companies of any scale to introduce Apprenticeships within their supply chains and reap the rewards of taking on talented individuals who grow and develop with your business. Subject to budget availability and the employer’s commitment to support the apprentice to the end of their programme, up to ten grants can be made to any one employer. Although the employer must commit to the total number of apprentices they wish to take at the agreement stage.

“Apprentices are hardworking and keen to learn. It took a while to sort the paperwork, but well worth it as they help me grow and develop my business. I would recommend apprentices to all businesses”, comments Sam Hargreaves, Managing Director, Gadgets4Everyone.

Sam Hargreaves is an acclaimed 21year old entrepreneur who frequently employs apprentices and is set to hit a million turnover in less than two years of trading. Originally from Maidenhead and now based in Marlow, Sam employs six apprentices currently and recently won a regional heat of a prestigious government backed ‘Apprentice Employer of the Year’ competition and is entering the national final shortly. Speaking as a young entrepreneur, Sam recognises the value that apprentices have brought to his business and boasts of the highly competent individuals they produce; a view shared by Robert Adams, Group Managing Director at White Knight:

"We recognise that the training and development of our staff is vital to the long term future of our business. Apprenticeships fill a key role in our business and an Apprenticeship scheme enables us to grow our own engineers, who understand our specialist technology and processes and who go on to become invaluable members of business.”

For more information on the grant, to find out whether your business is eligible or to apply now,
please visit: http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk/Employers/Steps-to-make-it....

-ENDS-

About Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership
The Thames Valley Berkshire LEP is a business led body, working to maintain the status of the sub region as the engine of the UK economy. It comprises of key leaders across the business, education, voluntary and community sector and six unitary authority areas of: Bracknell Forest, Reading, Slough, West Berkshire, Windsor & Maidenhead and Wokingham. The LEP’s priorities are improving infrastructure, for example, the Western Rail Access to Heathrow (WRAtH) programme; access to superfast broadband and finance; and ensuring a work-ready population through the development of skills and education opportunities.

For more details on Thames Valley Berkshire LEP please visit the website http://www.thamesvalleyberkshire.co.uk. Organisations interested in bidding for Growing Places Funds should contact Tim Smith on 07500 870172 or email tim.smith@thamesvalleyberkshire.co.uk. You can download a full briefing and FAQs document on Growing Places Funds via the website.

Media Contact:
Janine Mitchell
C8 Consulting Ltd
janine@c8consulting.co.uk
+44 1189 001132

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