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Jonathan Bourne

From 1 April 2015, Greater Manchester businesses will be entitled to more than £3,000 in additional skills funding, as part of the region’s landmark devolution agreement.

Under the deal, organisations taking on an apprentice for the first time will be eligible for additional funding of up to £3,500 per apprentice, compared to £1,500 elsewhere. The Greater Manchester version of the national apprenticeship ‘AGE’ grant is one of the first tangible changes resulting from devolution.

From 1 April 2015, the deal is open to all Greater Manchester-based employers that haven’t taken on an apprentice in the past year and employ up to 250 people. Elsewhere in the country the limit is only 50 staff.

Jonathan Bourne is Managing Director of Damar Training – a North West-based apprenticeship provider. He commented: “By raising the maximum employer size for the ‘AGE’ grant from 50 to 250 employees, the vast majority of employers in Greater Manchester are now in scope.

“We already work with dozens of employers – particularly law firms and professional service providers – that like to recruit high-calibre apprentices onto advanced and higher apprenticeships. Employers, such as these, will now receive at least £2,500 per apprentice – compared with £1,500 outside Greater Manchester. This money can be used for anything, but many firms will use it to offset an element of wage costs, or any additional training costs that are not covered by Government apprenticeship funding.”

As part of the changes, employers will be able to receive grants for up to three new apprentice recruits in Greater Manchester. Grants are paid once the apprentice, who needs to be aged 16 to 24 on enrolment, has been on the programme for 13 weeks, with a basic grant of £1,500 per apprentice.
Up to two additional grants per head are also available, taking the maximum per apprentice to £3,500.

Bourne added: “Apprentices who start on an advanced or higher apprenticeship will attract a further £1,000 and those who have successfully progressed from a traineeship – they have to start the apprenticeship within four weeks of finishing the traineeship – will generate a further £1,000.”

Damar is working with young people across the region who are looking to kick-start their careers with an apprenticeship. For more information, visit www.damartraining.com, or call 0161 480 8171.

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