MORE than 1,200 apprenticeships could be created through funding targeted by the Greater Manchester regional authority to help smaller businesses and to support priority sectors such as digital and health and social care.
The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) will be using almost £4 million of funding available after three schemes (the Youth Contract Expansion, Greater Manchester Apprenticeship Grant for Employers and Greater Manchester City Deal) came in under budget to support the creation of apprenticeships in the city-region.
It will also be used to build on the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham’s ambition to create a UCAS-style application process to support young people to make informed career choices about all routes, including apprenticeships.
The Small-to-Medium Enterprise (SME) Apprenticeships Support Package will help smaller employers that have yet to engage with apprenticeships and require an incentive and support to do so.
The scheme will work with at least 1,500 employers to create at least 700 new apprenticeship opportunities by using levy transfers, grants and workforce planning advice to remove barriers.
The funding will also be used to support apprenticeships and skills growth in priority areas, such as digital, health and social care, finance and construction to create a minimum of 500 high quality apprenticeship opportunities.
The GMCA says it will facilitate partnerships in these priority sectors between employers and apprenticeship and skills providers to create a pipeline of talent that meets employer needs.
An element of the funding will be used to expand the work of BridgeGM, which links businesses to schools to give young people a high quality interaction with the world of work and help them gain valuable careers’ education.
This links with the development of the UCAS-style system, which will make technical education such as apprentices more accessible and improve their perception.
Councillor Sean Fielding, Leader of Oldham Council and GMCA lead for Education and Skills, said: “We are determined here in Greater Manchester to make sure our young people are equipped for life and also that there are good jobs available for people to progress and develop, and we can’t achieve either of these goals without apprenticeships.
“It is not just about apprenticeships though, it is about the right apprenticeships for the right people and this is why these programmes are so important. Around 80 per cent of apprenticeship opportunities in Greater Manchester are with small-to-medium enterprises and we need to work with these employers to give people the best chance to start or develop their career.’’