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MP welcomes good news on the apprenticeship front

Wednesday, 8th February 2012.

Marking National Apprenticeship Week, Haverhill's MP Matthew Hancock has welcomed the 58 per cent increase in the number of people starting an apprenticeship in West Suffolk last year.

The Government is delivering unprecedented funding for new apprenticeships. In addition, the prime minister has announced that from February 7:
· Businesses and training providers can bid for a share of £6 million from the Higher Apprenticeship Fund, which will support the development of thousands of new Higher Apprenticeships in sectors including aerospace, energy and renewable technologies;
· Small and medium-sized businesses without any apprentices who hire one aged 16-24 are eligible for a £1,500 bonus, with up to 40,000 payments available;
· Businesses can bid for a share of a £250 million fund to boost skills in their workplace, giving employers rather than training providers direct access to funding for training.

Matthew said: “National Apprenticeship Week is a great opportunity to congratulate apprentices across West Suffolk on the fantastic work they are doing and to highlight the huge benefits apprenticeships bring.

“Apprenticeships allow people to earn and learn at the same time, while significantly increasing their potential future earnings.

"But the benefits go wider than that – every £1 spent on an apprenticeship returns an estimated benefit of £18 to the economy.

“That’s why it is such great news that 270 more people in West Suffolk started an apprenticeship last year thanks to the Coalition’s extra investment – a 58 per cent increase on the previous year.

“I am looking forward to visiting the excellent British Racing School in my constituency this Friday as part of National Apprenticeship Week.”

Thousands of young people across the country stand to benefit from a model agreement developed by a local council and a national union.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Unison have created the model agreement for use by employers and unions which Unionlearn are looking to adopt nationally.

The agreement clearly defines the commitment of all parties and ensures a consistent and supportive approach to employing apprentices. It will be signed during National Apprenticeship Week at an event on Friday at West Suffolk House.

Cllr David Ray, St Edmundsbury's cabinet member for performance and resources said: “There is a pressing need to find employment opportunities for our young people and St Edmundsbury has an excellent track record developing our own apprentices and promoting apprenticeships in the business community.

"When the TUC came to discuss good practice with us we introduced them to more than 25 apprentices now employed after successful placements.

"I am delighted that this model agreement will help other organisations in developing the potential of young people in the workplace.”

St Edmundsbury’s lifelong learning representative, Craig Young, is also employed directly by Unison to develop apprenticeships across the region.

He said: “Unison has been working on encouraging employers to commit to supporting apprenticeships and ensuring that all apprentices are treated fairly and consistently and have a positive experience.

"I have been into many workplaces and seen how widely this varies. The model agreement will be an essential tool in maximising the benefits to the organisation and the individual.”

Kirsty Downes, a St Edmundsbury apprentice said: “I have been in my role for a year now and since day one I have felt part of the team. They have been really supportive especially while I am studying.

"Even though the people I work with are somewhat older than me, they all have lots guidance and knowledge to share with me. They do not make me feel like an apprentice but a valuable member of the team.”

Haverhill Online News

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