�1.2m extension to successful Apprenticeship Grant for Employers scheme backed by West Yorkshire Combined Authority

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Investment Committee has backed £1.2m worth of funding today to extend a successful skills programme that has helped almost 4,000 young people into apprenticeships since 2015.
The Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE) programme ran until August 2017 thanks to devolved funding handed to the Combined Authority from Education and Skills Funding Agency.

During the initial two-year programme – delivered in partnership with the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) – 2,633 16 to 18-year-olds and 1,201 19 to 24-year-olds were helped into apprenticeships in local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across West Yorkshire and York. Sectors they were supported into included manufacturing (281 firms received a grant to hire apprentices), construction (691 firms) and information and communication (126 firms).

The extension recommended to proceed today would use money left from this pot to help fund an extra 375 new apprenticeships within businesses that have not had an apprentice before.

It was one of a range of schemes going through the committee that will, on completion, have a total investment value of more than £18m.

Cllr Peter Box, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Investment Committee and Leader of Wakefield Council, said:

“Our Apprenticeship Grant for Employers programme has previously been a huge success and goes to show the positive impact devolved funding and devolved decision making can have on local economies.

“Apprenticeships are a great way for young people to get a head start in their chosen careers and I look forward to the positive impact further funding will have young people looking for long-term, sustainable employment.”

Rashik Palmer, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership’s Employment and Skills Panel, said:

“Building the number of apprentices across Leeds City Region is a key part of our aim to grow the City Region economy.

“Businesses and young people both benefit when apprenticeships are successful and I am delighted that through our previous AGE programme we were able to help almost 3,000 firms bring in their first ever apprentice and almost 4,000 young people to get on in their careers.”

The Combined Authority’s Investment Committee met today (Wednesday 21 March) at Wellington House, in Leeds.

Schemes backed will now go to the full Combined Authority meeting on Thursday 5 April for final approval.

The Investment Committee meets as the LEP’s #FutureGoals campaign, which aims to raise awareness of job opportunities for young people within the City Region’s priority skills areas, continues. This campaign is being supported by assembly presentations, posters and teacher guidance packs for schools. For more information, visit www.the-lep.com/futuregoals