Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
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Prime Minister: We’ll make apprenticeships a gold standard option for ambitious young people

Prime Minister: We’ll make apprenticeships a gold standard option for ambitious young people

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 06 February 2012

- £6m Higher Apprenticeship Fund will deliver thousands more degree level places - £250m given directly to businesses, so they can take control of the way skills training is delivered - £1,500 apprenticeship incentive for small firms now available Marking National Apprenticeship Week the Prime Minister David Cameron today announced a new round of Government funding to support thousands of apprenticeships up to degree equivalent, helping deliver the world class skills firms need to drive growth.

From today, businesses and training providers can bid for a share of £6m from the Higher Apprenticeship Fund, which will support the development of thousands of new Higher Apprenticeships in sectors including aerospace, energy and renewable technologies.

The Prime Minister also opened the bidding for the new Employer Ownership pilot, inviting employers in England to apply to access up to £250m of public investment and secure more control over how skills training is designed and delivered.

He also announced that from this week, small firms will be offered an incentive of £1,500 to hire their first young apprentices. This is expected to support up to 40,000 new apprenticeships over the next year.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

"I'm delighted to underline our commitment to strengthen our economy by helping employers take on apprentices and ensure that the UK workforce has the skills that businesses need. Under this Government apprenticeship starts are increasing at a record rate, with improvements across the age range, in all sectors, throughout the country.

"By making apprenticeships a gold standard option for ambitious young people, we are sending a message that technical excellence is as highly valued as academic prowess. And by focusing investment where it is most needed to deliver sustainable growth and offering real ownership of vocational training to employers, we are equipping businesses with the skills they need to rebalance our economy and distribute opportunity more widely."

Skills Minister John Hayes said:

“Clarity of policy and certainty of purpose in Government has delivered a record number of apprenticeships and driven up standards at every level. We must now go further to create new pathways to excellence for the brightest and best young people and help employers to secure the high-quality skills they need. Our mission is to put practical training on a level playing field with academic study, creating a highly skilled, creative workforce that can take on the best in the world.”

Data released on 31 January confirms record growth in apprenticeship starts, with some 457,200 starting an apprenticeship in the full 2010/11 academic year. This represents a 63.5 per cent increase on 2009/10 figures. Growth took place at all levels of learning, for all age groups, and across all sectors and all regions. According to the National Audit Office, every £1 of public investment in apprenticeships delivers a return of £18 to the wider economy.

Recent reforms to the apprenticeships programme include measures to raise quality standards, cut bureaucracy for employers and deliver more advanced training at ‘A’ level equivalent and above.

Notes to Editors

1. A prospectus giving details of the Employer Ownership Pilot Investment Fund is now available for employers to download at

2. The Employer Ownership pilot was announced as part of the Government’s Growth Review on 17 November 2011. It builds on the vision for employer ownership developed by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, under the leadership of Charlie Mayfield.

3. By routing public investment directly to business in this way, employers will have the power to design, develop and purchase the vocational training programme they need.

4. It will be backed by significant resources from existing skills budgets. Funding for 2012/13 will be up to £50m, with an additional £200m in the second year - subject to evidence of high-quality proposals from employers and ongoing evaluation.

5. It will test different approaches, come up with new ways of engaging employees and potential employees, other firms and their supply chains to develop news ways of investing in skills, and working with the further education and skills sector.

6. Employers of all sizes and in all sectors in England may bid for to the fund, although minimum bid thresholds will apply. Bids will need to demonstrate how public investment will leverage private investment, support apprenticeships and show a commitment to raising skills levels in their sector, supply chain or locality. Detailed guidance and application forms for the pilot will be issued towards the end of February. Bidding will close on 26 April 2012.

7. For more information about the Higher Apprenticeship Fund, including information on how to apply for funding, visit:

8. The first round of bidding to the £25m Higher Apprenticeship Fund was opened by the Prime Minister in July 2011. In December, nineteen partnerships comprising employers and training providers were awarded £19m to support more than 19,000 degree level apprenticeships benefiting 250 employers. These include Leyland Trucks, Unilever, TNT, and Burberry.

9. Thousands of employers with up to 50 employees that don’t currently hire apprentices will be encouraged to take on a young apprentice aged 16 to 24 with an incentive payment of up to £1,500. This will support up to 20,000 new apprenticeships in 2012/13. An initial payment will be made two months after the individual has started their apprenticeship; the balance will be paid after the apprenticeship has been completed and the trainee has progressed into sustainable employment

10. Apprenticeship week runs from 6-10 February and is set to be the biggest to date. There are over 500 events across the country, taking place in schools, colleges and workplaces across England, at which young people and employers can find out more about local opportunities to benefit from an apprenticeship.

11. BIS's online newsroom contains the latest press notices, speeches, as well as video and images for download. It also features an up to date list of BIS press office contacts. See for more information.


BIS Press Office

Ashley Rogers.
Phone: 020 7215 5971

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