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Fresh Call Over Apprenticeship Funding as Mayor Outlines Scheme’s Success

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has today (July 24) updated the Combined Authority Cabinet on the success of a new £1million Emergency Apprenticeship Fund as he launched a fresh call for businesses to sign up for funding.

To date, 42 employers have been successful for apprenticeship funding, each creating a new apprentice role for the region’s 16-20-year-olds, since the scheme was launched just five weeks ago.

The money is being used to fund 100% of a new apprentices’ wages in their first six months of employment, and 50% for the remainder of the apprenticeship, up to a maximum of two years, offering an incentive to businesses following the dramatic decline in apprenticeship creation as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

A recent survey carried out for the Combined Authority revealed 69% of responding businesses said that they had furloughed apprentices, with 35% adding they could no longer commit to employing an apprentice.

The news came after Mayor Houchen visited Hartlepool-based Merlin Flex to reveal they had been one of the first businesses successful in securing the financial support. The firm is a world-leader in the design and manufacturing of cutting-edge, flexible circuit boards, whose creations have been used in the steering wheel of Sebastian Vettel’s Formula One car when he won the World Championship, as well as in Eurofighter pilot helmets and the Pepper robot, which can recognise human emotions.

Mayor Houchen said: “We’ve seen a great response so far to my new £1million Emergency Apprenticeship Fund to help businesses which may be struggling to take on apprentices at this difficult time. Our young people will not be left behind as a result of the coronavirus. It’s more important than ever, and central to my jobs plan, that we invest in young people to ensure they can get the qualifications they need to secure a successful career in our region.

“To make sure this funding benefits every community and sector in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool, I’d particularly like to encourage more businesses in Hartlepool and Redcar and Cleveland to apply. We’ve also had a strong showing from all sectors but if you’re an employer working in the Education or Advanced Manufacturing sectors, we’d love to hear from you too.

“The uptake in just a few short weeks shows that there is an appetite among our business community to support our talented young people into employment and help nurture and fill the roles that companies are crying out for.

“By taking advantage of my new fund, we can help these fantastic job creators, entrepreneurs and innovators recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic faster, helping them to go from strength-to-strength while helping the next generation.”

For more information or to apply for the funding, visit teesvalley-ca.gov.uk/new-apprentice-grant