Small businesses asked to take on apprentices

SMALL businesses in Essex are being asked to think about taking on an apprentice as part of a drive to cut unemployment and boost skills across the five counties that make up two Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas – the New Anglia LEP (Norfolk and Suffolk) and the East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Medway, Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock LEP.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is leading a Regional Growth Fund (RGF) application in partnership with East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Medway, Southend-on-Sea, Thurrock, Norfolk and Suffolk councils.

Essex FSB Chairman, Iain Wicks, said: “If the RGF application is successful we could see £5 million being available to help small businesses across the five counties to create around 2,000 new apprenticeship positions in their businesses.

“The aim is to provide a £2,500 subsidy for each new apprenticeship position within eligible businesses, which is roughly equivalent to six months basic salary for an apprentice.

“If this application is to be successful we need data from local firms for inclusion in the submission which has to reach the Secretary of State by Friday 01 July 2011, which is why we are asking them to complete a short 10 question survey which can be found at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SubsidisedApprenticeshipSurvey “

“We need as many businesses as possible to complete this short survey so we can make sure that we are aiming to create the right numbers of apprenticeships in the right sectors and in the right geographical areas.

“This application is unique in bringing together business and five local authority partners, but that makes the application even more powerful due to the economies of scale that are possible.

“We believe it can deliver real success, especially for our young people, our businesses and our economy by creating skilled staff in key industries which is exactly why the LEPs were formed.”

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