Thames Valley Berkshire Gets £2.4m To Combat Youth Unemployment

The fight against youth unemployment in the Thames Valley has received a major boost in the form of £2.4 million for investment in related initiatives. The money will come from the Youth Contract programme and will support councils and businesses in Reading, West Berkshire,ATG_NickClegg_051113 Wokingham, Bracknell, Slough and Windsor & Maidenhead to get more young people into work, as well as provide them with tailored training opportunities.

This is the latest City Deal to get the go-ahead from the government and its signing is of tremendous importance for young people and employers in the Thames Valley Berkshire area. As announced by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the deal will support initiatives to prepare 16- to 24-year-olds in the region for the world of work. Over the next three years, 4,500 local youngsters are expected to benefit from the deal.

Support will be provided through the creation of 1,500 new work experience placements and an additional 300 apprenticeships. Eligible businesses across the area will benefit from 800 new Youth Contract Wage Incentives. The deal terms stipulate that the employment and skills opportunities need to clearly reflect the needs of local youngsters to help them secure jobs. The £2.4 million provided by the government will be matched by the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, which will count on local businesses to secure private sector investment.

Clegg said that City Deals were all about solving local problems through local solutions by adopting innovative approaches. Tackling youth unemployment is at the heart of these deals and the latest one will benefit all stakeholders in Thames Valley Berkshire. Providing local young people with valuable skills will also help businesses in the area, allowing them to grow and contribute to local prosperity, Clegg added.

Welcoming the investment Stephen Smyth, spokesman for ATG Training reminded local employers that other financial support is also available to them through Government initiatives.  There is a grant of £1,500 for employers that take on new Apprentices, which apply to as many as 10 (£15,000). In addition there is support available from the European Social Fund.

More information is available on the available financial support on 0845 873 8440 or


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Can Labour’s Apprenticeship Plan Boost The Domestic Skills Base?

Ed Miliband has garnered lots of media attention with his plan to promote high-qualityATG_EdMiliband1_081013 apprenticeships and help the UK maintain its skills base. At the recent Labour Party conference, the party leader outlined a policy under which UK employers would be required to take on an apprentice for every non-EU worker joining their staff. Last week, The Engineer published the findings of its reader poll on Labour’s plan, revealing a mixed attitude towards the idea.

Miliband’s policy envisions the recruitment of an apprentice for every Tier 2 non-EU immigrant employed by a UK company. These are foreigners admitted into the country because of their highly valuable skills. By providing an apprentice with equivalent skills, UK employers would ensure the availability of highly skilled workers for the UK economy, Miliband claims.

So how do readers of The Engineer feel about this balancing act? According to 44% of them, the policy would have no impact because it would only apply to non-EU workers, while 39% expressed the belief that it would have a positive effect on the domestic skills base. For 16% of the sample, the plan raises concerns that local employers would be put off recruiting foreign talent, thus negatively affecting a skills base that relies on overseas workers.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) is among the industry organisations that believe there are better ways of promoting apprenticeships and helping the UK nurture its future talent. According to the BCC, better results would be achieved by offering apprentice employers financial incentives and urging schools to give greater attention to work skills, The Engineer said.

Spokesman for  a provider of Apprenticeships, ATG Training commenting said ‘Policy matters have major impacts on the training market and any proposed changes need to be fully debated, with industry SME’s having a key role in the future economic output of Great Britain PLC’.

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Apprenticeship Grant For Employers Extended To December 2014

The UK government announced last week that the grant for employers taking on apprentices aged 16 to 24 would be extended for another year. The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)ATG_funding_060813 has updated its fact sheet, providing detailed information on eligibility criteria both for employers and apprentices, the steps required to apply for the grant and the payment mechanism. The document also includes information about the enhanced grant available to London employers.

AGE 16 to 24 (Apprenticeship Grant for Employers of 16 to 24 year olds) amounts to £1,500 and is provided to employers with fewer than 1,000 workers in the UK. In order to qualify, they must be either recruiting their first apprentice or the first one in 12 months. They must also commit to keeping the apprentice on their payroll for as long as it takes to complete the training programme. For eligible employers, AGE 16 to 24 will be available until the end of December 2014.

In the case of apprentices, eligibility criteria include the specified age range and a requirement that they be new recruits. They must also reside in England and be applying for an apprenticeship programme recognised by the Skills Funding Agency. In addition, apprentices must not be engaged in full-time education.

For businesses with London borough postcodes there is an enhanced AGE 16 to 24, the amount available being £3,000. Eligible employers must apply for this by 31 December 2013. The additional amount for London businesses comes from funds provided by the London Enterprise Panel (LEP).

The application process involves the signing of an agreement between the employer and the chosen training provider and this must be done before the start of the apprenticeship. The qualification point for receipt of the grant is the completion of 13 weeks ‘in-learning’.

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Cable Highlights Value Of Apprenticeships During Visit To Rolls-Royce Festival Stand

Rolls-Royce is one of the jewels in the UK’s manufacturing crown. The company has a long track record of nurturing new talent through its apprenticeship programmes and the wisdom of such a policy was highlighted yesterday by Business Secretary Vince Cable. He stressed the importance of apprenticeships for plugging the skills gap during his visit to the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars stand at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Cable was accompanied by Automotive Council co-chairman Richard Parry-Jones and the EarlATG_Rolls-Royce_160713 of March, founder of the Festival of Speed, automotive information website the Auto Channel reported. He pointed out that the UK’s success in the automotive sector was maintained by its skilled workforce. Rolls-Royce and other leading manufacturers have long recognised how valuable apprenticeships are for ensuring the competitiveness of the UK industry. These are companies that have impressive records of giving young people a strong start on their career journeys. Apprenticeships will help the automotive industry secure its future talent and the Automotive Council expects to create an additional 7,600 apprenticeships in the next five years. Efforts to eliminate the skills shortage also include the improvement of existing and future training programmes, Cable added.

Torsten Mueller-Otvos, chief executive of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, said that the company was extremely pleased to be recognised as a manufacturing success story. It was also very happy to hear Cable’s positive comments about the apprenticeship and graduate programmes run by Rolls-Royce, Mueller-Otvos added.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars launched its apprenticeship programme in 2006. As part of the scheme, young people between the ages of 16 and 24 get the opportunity to learn valuable skills and lay the foundations of a rewarding career.

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Skills Summit Participants Highlight Importance Of Apprenticeships

Stephen Smyth, spokesman for the Engineering Apprentice Training provider ATG Training noticed this article reporting on the skills summit.

Late in June, London played host to a skills summit for high-growth sectors. Representatives ofATG_engineeringtraining_040713 government and industry organisations and companies from the technology, engineering, life sciences and creative sectors came together to discuss skills development and its importance for the future economic growth of the UK. Among the summit participants was the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), which demonstrated its commitment to skills development by announcing new higher and advanced level apprenticeships.

Commenting on the new programmes, REC chief executive Kevin Green pointed out that a key economic challenge was the gap between the skills employers need and those offered by jobseekers. Apprenticeships represent an excellent way to set young Britons on a career course in sectors where fresh talent is needed, recruitment being one such sector, Green added.

The importance of apprenticeships was also highlighted by executives of other major trade bodies. Among them was Rob Wall, who is in charge of education and employment policy at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). Wall said that the country needed more high quality apprenticeships, especially higher level apprenticeships. They are crucial for improving the skills of the UK workforce and ensuring the future competitiveness of the UK economy.

Similar comments were made by Peter Cheese, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. He described apprenticeships as a viable alternative to higher education and noted that they are becoming increasingly recognised and important. For the benefit of young people and the UK economy, all industries should embrace apprenticeships and implement policies that encourage school leavers to become apprentices, Cheese stated.

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Opening Doors Campaign Seeks To Level Playing Field For Young Job Seekers

UK companies of all sizes are being called upon to make jobs available to young peopleATG Apprenticeships from all walks of life. This appeal is at the core of the Opening Doors campaign launched by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who has partnered with entrepreneur James Caan for the initiative. The aim is to ensure fair and open access to job opportunities for all talented young Britons, helping them on the way to their chosen career through the provision of work experience, internships and apprenticeships.

Reporting the news on its website, the National Apprenticeship Service said that more than 150 major UK companies had already joined the initiative. They have pledged to open their doors to any deserving young person regardless of his or her social background. As part of the campaign, Clegg has also asked Caan to set up the Opening Doors Award. Caan will do that together with Peter Searle, chief executive of leading UK recruiter Adecco Group. Caan and Searle will act as judges and the awards will be handed out later this year, recognising companies that have done exceptional work in levelling the playing field for all young Britons in search of work opportunities.

Judging by the findings of a YouGov survey, Opening Doors is definitely needed. Conducted for the campaign, the research produced results indicating that young Britons from underprivileged backgrounds find it harder to access work opportunities in the industry of their choice. Among representatives of higher social grades, 33% of people aged 16 to 25 said they were already working in their chosen industry. However, this applied to only 5% of young Brits in lower social grades.

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UK Commission for Employment and Skills Calls For Tax Breaks As Means Of Spurring Apprenticeship Uptake

The value of apprenticeships is widely recognised but they are yet to become mainstream.ATG_accounts_060613 This, however, needs to happen if the UK wants to ensure its future growth and promote job creation. Through apprenticeships, the country gets the skills it needs while young people get the opportunity to start their journey towards a rewarding career. However, the government needs to provide more incentives to encourage greater apprentice recruitment by companies and tax breaks would be a step in the right direction, according to Scott Johnson, commissioner at the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).

In an article published on Wednesday in the International Business Times, Johnson declared himself fully supportive of the funding reforms recommended by Doug Richard in his review of apprenticeships. The idea is to give the funds directly to employers, putting them in a position to choose apprenticeship programmes that meet their particular skills needs. Delivering this change through the tax system would create new opportunities for young Britons and pave their way to mainstream employment. In the case of employers, such reforms would result in a more accessible apprenticeship system for enterprises of any size. The ultimate beneficiary would be the wider UK economy as more jobs are created, businesses prosper and future skill needs are taken care of.

Johnson, himself a small business owner, went on to add that he strongly supported apprenticeships and all training programmes that kept the end goal firmly in sight. That goal is to provide people and companies with the necessary tools to excel. The great thing about apprenticeships is that they deliver truly unique solutions driven by industry needs, Johnson added.

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Semta CEO Urges Employers To Tackle Skills Shortage

Taking on apprentices and recruiting graduates are both great ways of addressing the skillsATG Training Apprentice Engineer shortage in engineering and manufacturing but UK companies need to do more, according to Semta chief executive Sarah Sillars. Employers also have to invest in improving the skills of existing employees and help spread the word about the excellent career opportunities available in the sector, Sillars was quoted as saying by The Journal.

Since it is exam season, our attention is focused on how young Britons are doing and what their future plans involve. Sillars urged those graduating in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects to think about an engineering or advanced manufacturing career. She noted that there were amazing opportunities for young people considering further education but prospects in the sector were also fantastic for those with no university plans. Boys and girls with five GCSEs (among them maths and science) can lay the foundations of a great career by opting for an apprenticeship. This will allow them to earn money, learn on the job and pave the way to excellent long-term prospects.

Sillars went on to add that Semta’s research painted a bleak picture for the future engineering and manufacturing talent base. By 2017 the sector will lose 8,500 employees to retirement and 15,000 need to improve their skills. According to the 2013 Harvey Nash Manufacturing Leadership survey, 62% of executives consider their companies woefully short of skills. Not only can apprentices help close the gap but they also tend to make more loyal employees, Sillars noted, citing a study by the National Apprenticeship Service. According to that research, 74% of employers believe apprentices to be more loyal than non-apprentices. In addition, 92% stated that their training programmes improved staff motivation and boosted job satisfaction levels.

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LSIS Seeks To Boost Uptake Of Disabled Apprentices

The Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) is in the midst of its latestATG Training Apprentice initiative aimed at encouraging employers and training providers to take on apprentices with disabilities. Acting in partnership with Remploy Employment Services, the LSIS is addressing issues through two workshops this week, one held on Monday and another scheduled for Thursday. Three other workshops on the subject were organised earlier this year and proved extremely successful. The LSIS will be closed on 31 July 2013 but Remploy, the specialist employment support services provider, is hoping to secure a sponsor and continue to deliver such workshops across the country.

The seminars focus on concerns that might discourage employers and training providers from recruiting apprentices with disabilities. A survey commissioned by the National Apprenticeship Service in 2011 identified some of those concerns. Remploy, which carried out the research, established that employers were often deterred from taking on disabled apprentices for fear of an overwhelming regulatory burden with regard to health and safety. Some were also concerned that the apprentices would drop out of the programme, which could affect the company’s business plans. Through these workshops, the LSIS and Remploy seek to address existing concerns by informing providers how to get extra support and funding for disabled apprentices, as well as increase the number of disabled learners in apprenticeship programmes by using employer engagement strategies.

Remploy business consultant Howard Nelson said the organisation was hoping to carry on the work started by the LSIS although the workshops may not be free in the future if a sponsor is not found. The success of the events organised so far has prompted Remploy to consider a national conference on disabled apprentices, which is scheduled to take place in September.

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Finalists For Brathay Apprentice Challenge Announced

The Brathay Trust charity has shortlisted the finalists for this year’s Brathay Apprentice

Successful ATG Training Apprentices

Successful ATG Training Apprentices

Challenge, which seeks the best apprenticeship team in the UK. The eight finalists were selected among 800 individual apprentices from 90 apprenticeship employers, training providers and colleges from across the country.

The finalists were announced by skills minister Matthew Hancock and include Broadland Council Training Services (BCTS), a Norfolk-based team of apprentices from local small businesses, as well as Burnley Borough Council, last year’s winners aerospace company Cobham, Cumbria-based packaging manufacturer Innovia Films, Norwich facilities management firm Norse Group, Plymouth City Council and Unilever.

Over the past two months, applicants took part in more than 60 community projects and 280 school visits to educate young people about the benefits of being an apprentice for a person’s career development and qualifications.

The Brathay Apprentice Challenge is supported by the National Apprenticeship Service and aims to find the best apprentices in terms of non-technical work skills and personal attributes. The shortlisted finalists will take part in further fundraising and awareness raising activities in May before the winner is announced at the final event, which will be held at Brathay Trust’s headquarters in Windermere on 10-12 June.

Matthew Hancock commented that all apprentices that participated in the Challenge this year have demonstrated the remarkable ambition and dedication they deliver to their employers on a daily basis. The selected finalists can be a real inspiration to young people who are thinking of becoming apprentices, he added.

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