Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has today (18 June) launched a fund to support the wages of more than 100 apprentices as part of the region’s coronavirus response.
The Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority have earmarked £1million to encourage businesses to offer employment to more 16-20-year-olds across Tees Valley in a bid to reverse the decline of apprenticeship creation as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The money will be used to fund 100% of the apprentices’ wages in their first six months of employment, and 50% for the remainder of the apprenticeship, up to a maximum of two years.
A recent survey for the Combined Authority found 69% of businesses who responded stated that they had furloughed apprentices and 35% said they could no longer commit to employing an apprentice.
Businesses who sign up to the scheme will also be asked to pay the national minimum wage, rather than the national apprenticeship wage, where applicable, and the apprentices will also be employed for a minimum of 30 hours a week.
Mayor Houchen said: “The coronavirus pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for businesses and local workers. As part of my plan for jobs, we need to make sure that our young people who are part way through an apprenticeship can continue with the qualifications, which will help them for the rest of their lives.
“Unfortunately, many businesses are now reluctant to commit to offering apprenticeships to young people because of the uncertainty they are currently experiencing and as part of my plan to create local jobs for local people, I’m going to change this.
“By offering almost £1million and funding the salaries of more than 100 apprenticeships, we can make sure that our talented young people across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool are getting the good highly skilled, good quality jobs they deserve and are starting off on the road to a successful career.
“I have allocated £19million to raise skills levels, produce the skilled workforce that businesses need and to support the creation of apprenticeships across the Tees Valley, but this is an immediate commitment to help businesses and local workers at a time when they need it more than ever.
“This has been a difficult time for everybody, but we need to make sure our young people in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool are equipped to fill the skills gap which many businesses are crying out for.
“They do not deserve to be disadvantaged because of the coronavirus – they are the workers of the future and we need to do all we can to support them.”
To register your interest in applying for a grant, visit teesvalley-ca.gov.uk/apprentices