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Charandeep Singh, Deputy Chief Executive Scottish Chambers of Commerce and member of the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board urges businesses from across Scotland to take advantage of the new financial support available as part of the Young Person’s Guarantee.

The world of work – including apprenticeships - has been disrupted by the pandemic.  

That’s why the Apprenticeship Employer Grant (AEG) will be a valuable incentive to many employers across Scotland, particularly those forced to place a freeze on recruitment or investment in apprenticeships as part of their long-term skills strategy. It’s important to remember that apprenticeships are not the construct of government - fundamentally it is businesses that create opportunities for workplace learning – but it is government’s responsibility to provide support to businesses as they battle to retain existing jobs. Therefore, the £15 million Apprenticeship Employer Grant is a welcome addition to support available. 

As part of the Scottish Government’s Young Person’s Guarantee, the Grant has been made available to further support employers of all sizes and sectors, when they take on Modern or Graduate Apprentices within their business. It is a one-off payment of £5000 to recruit new apprentices or upskill existing employees who are aged 16-24, or those aged up to 29 who are disabled, care experienced or black minority ethnic. For apprentices aged 25 and over, there is also a one-off payment of £3500 available.  

With the grant now live and applications being taken, I firmly see this as a win for both businesses and individuals as potential apprentices. It also reflects the responsiveness and agility of Scottish Chambers of Commerce to work alongside employer groups and Skills Development Scotland in close collaboration, to respond to the current climate and support businesses and young people. 

The Grant should, and hopefully will, make a difference to many of the Scottish businesses – large and small - out there who are committed to the long-term benefits of nurturing talent and growing their own through apprenticeships.

Charandeep Singh, Deputy Chief Executive Scottish Chambers of Commerce and member of the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board

As the Scottish Chambers of Commerce representative on the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board (SAAB), I have the opportunity to collaborate with other business leaders from across public and private sectors and from all industries and sizes of organisations in Scotland. As a new SAAB member, I had the opportunity to collaborate with other sector representatives and take part in the employer consultation exercise to help define some of the detail of the grant. The thinking behind this was to ensure that the Grant was suitable, accessible and had real impact for businesses – for employers, shaped by employers. We considered the Grant in terms of the detail, conditions, processes and take up. A key ‘ask’ was that the amount should be significant enough to act as a real incentive and so I am delighted to see this translate in the final outcome – which is more than double that available through the equivalent scheme in England.  

The Apprenticeship Advisory Board acts as ‘the voice of industry’ on apprenticeships in Scotland. I’ve now seen first-hand - through SAAB’s influential membership playing a significant part in shaping this outcome - that government is now taking note. There is much more to be done to support jobs recovery, but this is a convincing step in the right direction.  

The Grant should, and hopefully will, make a difference to many of the Scottish businesses – large and small - out there who are committed to the long-term benefits of nurturing talent and growing their own through apprenticeships. Representing our Chambers members from across all sizes and sectors in Scotland, I know that this will be especially pertinent to SMEs who may feel that recruitment and up-skilling has had to be a downgraded priority after staying afloat, post-Lockdown. At the Chambers, we are committed to helping our members by providing the right information to keep them informed of support available and to continue their investments in apprenticeships where possibleThis is why I will be closely working with the Chamber Network across Scotland to champion this Grant support and how to apply. There is £15million available which must be put to use and I expect that applications will come thick and fast.  

Apprenticeships are important – not just at this time, but especially at this time. Apprenticeships are key to any organisation’s legacy and talent pipeline and are at the heart of how businesses will rebuild and invest in our future.

Charandeep Singh, Deputy Chief Executive Scottish Chambers of Commerce and member of the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board

Apprenticeships are important – not just at this time, but especially at this time. Apprenticeships are key to any organisation’s legacy and talent pipeline and are at the heart of how businesses will rebuild and invest in our futureThey act as a way of ensuring that employers can get the skills they need, future-proofing their industry and workforce. 

I would urge any employer out there who wants to continue investing in apprenticeships to take advantage of this opportunity and make the application today. This is done through a training provider who will complete the online form – and the money is paid directly to the employer.  

Looking ahead to meet the challenges we all face, we will need more apprenticeships being funded and more flexibility from learning providers to help deliver the skills needed by employers and apprentices alike to ensure that apprenticeships are fit-for-purpose. 

But in the immediate future, this direct funding support is significant and can’t come too soon for Scottish businesses. Key initiatives like this can create real change and have a lasting and a positive impact on our businesses and the Scottish economy. I am encouraged in my new role as SAAB member to continue providing input: bringing my knowledge of Scotland’s business sector to discussions and helping to shape Scotland’s future.  

 

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