A government scheme giving employers £3,000 cash grants to take on an apprentice is set to come to an end on Thursday, 30 September.
The extra funding boost, announced by Rishi Sunak in the March 2021 Budget, aimed to help employers invest in the skills of their workforce during a national skills shortage.
But time is running out to apply for the incentives. Employers in England have until September 30 to arrange an apprenticeship and access £3,000 funding for an apprentice of any age, or £4,000 for taking on a young apprentice aged between 16 and 18.
Helen Booth, director of the HomeServe Foundation, which campaigns to increase the number of high-quality apprenticeships in the UK and champions ways to boost youth unemployment, said: “Employers who have been thinking about expanding their business and taking on an apprentice need to act very quickly to benefit from the current level of incentives.
“The scheme was a brilliant and timely move. The UK is in the middle of a skills crisis straddling many sectors including logistics, construction and trades and hospitality. These incentives are incredibly valuable if you’re a small business looking to take on more work and expand.”
According to a survey of small UK trades businesses conducted by the HomeServe Foundation, the charity arm of home repairs and improvements firm HomeServe PLC, 80 per cent of firms say the current apprenticeship incentives had helped their decision to take on an apprentice.
The recent survey found 84 per cent of trades firms, including electricians, plasterers and heating engineers, planned to take on an apprentice to help with increased workloads.
The charity says the UK trades sector is grappling with a huge upturn in customer demand as consumers invest in their homes with kitchen upgrades, decorating projects and home extensions.
According to the Government, more than 60,000 claims for the incentives, which have been available since April this year, have been made for 16 to 24-year olds, with more than 19,000 for the over-25 age group.
The Department for Work and Pensions Kickstart scheme, which gives young people on Universal Credit paid-for work placements, also allows employers that find a good candidate using that route, to employ them as apprentices and benefit from the incentives.