Budget 2014 reveals promises for apprentices

Government to increase apprenticeships and extend grants for employers taking on apprentices

The government is set to double the number of available apprenticeships, introduce degree-level apprenticeships, and extend grants for employers taking on apprentices.

During his 2014 budget speech George Osborne promised more apprenticeships in a bid to solve the UK’s youth employment issues.

Speaking to the house of commons this week, the chancellor of the exchequer said: "To ensure we give young people the skills they need to get good jobs in this modern world, we’ve doubled the number of apprenticeships and I will extend the grants for smaller businesses to support over 100,000 more.

"And we’ll now develop new degree-level apprenticeships too."

John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Business wanted a budget that was disciplined, focused, and geared towards the creation of wealth and jobs – and that’s what the chancellor has delivered.

“With a huge confidence gap still separating employers from young job seekers, we are very pleased to see the chancellor heed our call to help firms take on and train tomorrow’s workforce. Overcoming that confidence gap means more investment in young people, more apprenticeships, and more jobs, which are critical with more than 900,000 16-to-24-year-olds still out of work.”

In response to the budget, Graham Hunter, director of western europe at CompTIA, said: “Apprenticeships are vital for filling the IT gap, so this is great news. As a serious, vocational profession, they represent one of the best ways for young people to enter the profession and for employers to recruit talented people at low cost to themselves.

“However places available are not the same as places filled, and low awareness of both sides of the potential of apprenticeships remains a problem. We would like to see a greater push to employers and students to communicate the value and respectability of these apprenticeships.”

This week datacentre firm Sudlows announced it has created six new apprenticeship placements, with its scheme due to start in April in partnership with Manchester College.

Apprentices will be placed in roles throughout Sudlows engineering and operational divisions including business administration, electrical, mechanical and connectivity roles. After their first-year apprentices will go on to the higher stage NVQ and BTEC qualification.

Andy Hanlon, head of operations for Sudlows, said: “Sudlows has supported apprenticeship schemes for many years as they have demonstrated a long-term benefit to the business.

“The best example is that Sudlows current managing director, John Collins, started as an apprentice at Sudlows more than 20 years ago, under what was known as the Youth Training Scheme.”

Read more on IT technical skills