Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has funded almost 4,000 new apprenticeships in just two years, according to latest figures.
Total funding exceeded £6.5m as young people were supported into apprenticeships in local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across West Yorkshire and York. Sectors supported include manufacturing (281 firms received a grant), construction (691 firms) and information and communication (126 firms), among others.
The Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE) programme was particularly successful in supporting firms that had never employed an apprentice before, with three quarters of all businesses engaged (2,204) receiving funding for their first apprenticeship. Latest figures show that, despite being home to more than 120,000 businesses, only 20% of Leeds City Region firms have ever offered an apprenticeship.
Money for the programme came from the first wave of devolution funding handed to West Yorkshire Combined Authority in 2015.
James Davis, 20, from Wakefield, is one young person who benefitted from an AGE-funded apprenticeship. His employer, Caltech IT Limited, based in Batley, received funding in 2016 to support James through his Level 3 Software Development apprenticeship. He has since continued to pass his Level 4 apprenticeship and is now a full-time employee at the business.
James said: “When I left college, I had the choice of going to university or doing an apprenticeship but the chance to earn while I was training was a big incentive to go down the apprentice route.
“There’s not a moment I’ve regretted my choice and I’d certainly recommend an apprenticeship to others. It has supported me develop professionally while learning a skill and helped me to get a full-time job where every day is different and there is never a dull moment.”
A grant programme for 2018 is also being developed by the LEP to support businesses that have never offered apprenticeships before. For more information on this and other support for apprenticeships, contact the LEP’s Growth Service on 0113 348 1818 or email BusinessGrowth@the-lep.com.