Cash incentive places for smaller businesses doubled

Fresh details have been revealed on the awarding of 40,000 cash incentives to smaller businesses to take on apprentices.

Business Secretary Vince Cable announced on November 16 that 20,000 incentives places of £1,500 would be provided to companies with less than 50 employees.

It would be handed to employers who had not engaged in the programme, but were keen to take on a 16 to 24 year old apprentice.

The initial number was then doubled little more than a week later – on November 25 – when Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced that up to 40,000 incentive places would be offered as part of the £1 billion of funding through the Youth Contract.

However, no further details were released on the mechanism of the payments or when they would be made available for during the 2012/13 financial year.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), though, has said it expects more details to be announced “soon” by the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), with a criteria currently being put together.

A spokesperson for BIS said: “Vince Cable announced on November 16 that 20,000 incentive places would be provided for small businesses, not previously engaged in the programme, to offer apprenticeship places for 16-24 year olds.

“As part of the £1 billion of funding provided through the Youth Contract to help young people, it was announced by the Deputy Prime Minister on November 25 that additional funding would be made available to increase the number of incentive places to up to 40,000.

“The incentive scheme will continue to be targeted at small businesses. The NAS are currently developing the precise eligibility criteria.

“The NAS will provide full details on their website shortly.”

However, BIS has also revealed the payments will be balanced against completions and the future employment of the apprentice.

The spokesperson added: “Businesses taking part in the scheme will receive two payments for each apprentice they take on.

“The first payment will be made soon after the apprentice has started their framework. The second payment will be timed to incentive completion and ongoing employment.”

When Mr Cable announced the cash incentives, he also revealed a host of other measures to make it easier for companies to take on apprentices.

He said processes will be simplified to make it quicker to take on apprentices, including streamlining health and safety requirements, and a focus on targeting the programme where apprenticeships deliver greatest value.

Apprenticeship providers, will also be required to offer training in English and maths to the standard of a good GCSE (level 2) for all apprenticeships.

For more on the plans, businesses can contact the NAS on their hotline for employers, which is 0800 150 600.