1000 Derbyshire Apprenticeships created as Derbyshire Conservatives extend our nationally-acclaimed scheme.

In early 2012 I secured financial backing to help 200 small businesses employing less than 50 people across the county take on a 16 to 18 year old apprentice for the first time in our Derbyshire Apprenticeship Grant for Employers scheme.

The drive was a huge success with every placement filled within six months − providing young people from across the county with a career start in a range of occupations including business administration, health and social care, and mechanical engineering.  The first apprentices have now completed their full training, and crucially are being offered full time employment with their company.

My vision for a local authority to support young people and employers was showcased as an example of best practice at the 2012 National Apprenticeship Conference, where I was invited to present to The Future of Apprenticeships, ‘Putting Theory into Practice’. (opens in a new window)

Setting achievable targets free from the obstacles that have prevented employers engaging with the National Programme, and within 6 months awarding all 200 placements to small businesses across Derbyshire, it was a clear indication to me for the appetite of this support from both our young people and private sector employers, so in November 2012, I secured further funding to extend the scheme to create another 300 apprenticeships.

It means, 500 private sector apprenticeships will have been created by 31st March 2013.

"Our Derbyshire grant for employers’ initiative has been a huge success and is providing support for businesses and young people in all 8 districts across Derbyshire.

 "Starting my career as an Apprentice Engineer, I am pleased Derbyshire Conservatives are giving the opportunity to 500 young people to start out in a new industry career and develop skills our businesses recognise as adding value to their workforce.

"Small businesses play a vital role in the Derbyshire economy and Conservatives are committed to supporting them to develop, grow and help our communities thrive."

We've joined forces with the National Apprenticeship Service who acknowledge our local authority scheme, as being top in the East Midlands and third nationally for investing in young people and business skills for the future, and matched our own funding to help us deliver 1000 Derbyshire Apprenticeships which is good value for Council Tax payers.

It means grants of £2,500 will continue to be available for employers to take on an apprentice, subject to meeting the scheme's criteria.  Initially I want our extended scheme to continue to target businesses employing 16-18 year old apprentices, but can be extended to 19-24 year olds where appropriate.

It will also keep targeting businesses employing less than 50 employees, as our economy is mainly made up of micro businesses but again we will be flexible and extend to businesses employing up to 250 and 1000 staff to increase the range, learning and work experience opportunities’ for our Young People.

"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 Derbyshire employer grant scheme is running alongside our own drive to create 500 apprenticeships in Derbyshire County Council which is needed because of the aging workforce.

Businesses will be able to apply for funding through the Derbyshire AGE Grants scheme from January 2013, and I would encourage all employers to get behind our Young People and create an opportunity for them to start a bright and successful professional career.

Further information available from National Apprenticeship Service Small Business Unit on 08000 150 600


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