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Government backing of apprenticeship schemes needs clarification, urges IMI

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However Steve Nash, Chief Executive of the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) believes clarification is urgently needed in what this means for the retail motor industry, one of the key areas of opportunity for apprentices.

“Last Wednesday, the Chancellor confirmed that £170m of additional finance was to be made available for apprenticeships in 2014/15 and 2015/16 and for businesses with fewer than 50 employees, to encourage them to take on young apprentices between 16-24 years old,” said Steve Nash. “Employers who have not had an apprentice in the last year can receive a grant of up to £1,500 for the first ten apprentices they employ. With about 80 per cent of the businesses in the retail motor sector fitting into the 50 or under employees category, this could be a fantastic chance to really open up the employment opportunities for young people.

“But there has been no confirmation from the Government as to where these funds are actually going – is it an additional 100,000 apprenticeship places or will the money be allocated to specific sectors, and if so, which? Clarification is needed urgently.”

The IMI recently published the results of a two year project to prove the value of apprentices in the automotive sector, which provided definitive evidence that vocational training does not have to be a cost-burden to business and can play a vital role in reducing youth unemployment. The research showed that, by the end of their third year, a well-recruited apprentice can generate between 150 per cent and 300 per cent return on investment, based on a £50 hourly charge. In other words, for every £1 a firm invests, it will see a return of between £1.50 and £3.

“Our research proves that businesses can reap genuine financial rewards from employing young people,” concluded Nash. “Vince Cable has come out and said that the Government wants to change young people’s thinking and make it the new norm that they either go to university or pick an apprenticeship. That is a fantastic attitude and one that the IMI wholeheartedly supports – if it comes to fruition. However what we now need from the Government is a clear strategy on how – and where – its promised new funding will be delivered.”

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