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Close Brothers launches fourth phase of SME Apprentice Programme

Financial support for employers who want to recruit the next generation of engineers

Employers will be given financial help towards taking on apprentices under a scheme from Close Brothers to recruit and train the next generation of advanced engineering workers.

The Close Brothers SME apprenticeship programme - supported by the AMRC Training Centre and the Manufacturing Technologies Association - is part of Close Brothers long established commitment to supporting small and medium sized enterprises who might otherwise not be able to afford to take on an apprentice.

Under the scheme, Close Brothers will help pay for 20 apprentices to learn their skills at the AMRC Training Centre in Rotherham - part of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) Group – to help smaller businesses in the region secure the skills they need for future growth.

Close Brothers will contribute 50 per cent of the wages of the apprentices in the first year and 25 per cent in the second year, and cover all training costs. Further support will be offered for those on degree apprenticeships.

This is the fourth year of the Close Brothers SME Apprentice programme, underlining the continued commitment to supporting SMEs in taking on apprenticeships.

Nikki Jones, the AMRC Training Centre Director, is thrilled the programme is to continue.

She said: “The support Close Brothers has given has transformed the lives of many apprentices already and its continued support is invaluable to young people and small businesses in the region.

“The scheme is designed in such a way so as to support those individuals and companies who need it most but also contribute towards the training centre’s ongoing commitment to encourage more females into the industry and boost higher level skills development through degree apprenticeships.

“All of this is underpinned by the support needed for our smaller businesses in the region which are the lifeblood of our economy. The recruitment of ambitious and fully-trained apprentices that can hit the ground running is definitely the right way to go - not only to address the glaring skills shortage threatening the UK engineering and manufacturing industries but to create a diverse and dynamic workforce brimming with fresh talent and new ideas.”

Adrian Sainsbury, Managing Director of Close Brothers banking division, said apprenticeships are an excellent way for UK SMEs to fill skills gaps, develop their future workforce and improve long-term growth prospects.

He said: “For the last three years we have supported SMEs around the country to invest in apprentices and we are delighted to be able to continue our work with AMRC to sponsor a further 20 apprentices this year.

“We know from experience that SMEs often need assistance to take on apprentices, so we designed our programme to help with the specific issues they face. We believe the scheme has made a real difference to the business results of participating SMEs and we look forward to continuing this important initiative in partnership with the AMRC.”

The scheme has already resulted in some fantastic apprentice success stories. One of those was our sponsored apprentice and Foxwood Diesel heavy duty engine builder, Leigh Worsdale. She was the first female Apprentice of the Year at the AMRC Training Centre’s 2017 ceremony and as part of her prize spent time in America with Boeing. She has become a figurehead for engineering apprenticeships in the region.

Ken Worsdale, Managing Director of Foxwood Diesel, said the scheme helped relieve some of the financial pressure of training Leigh as a new apprentice.

He said: “Running a small business is never easy and finding the right people that fit into the business can be challenging. That’s why we train our own staff and engineers. We found that we needed a higher calibre engineer as engine technologies have advanced so we chose the AMRC for our training needs.

“We applied for the Close Brothers scheme and were very pleased to be accepted as this took some of the financial pressure off us, and allowed us to further help Leigh in her apprenticeship by giving her more time to study and attend courses and events.

“Leigh has gained so much confidence and has now become an ambassador for apprentices and women in engineering and is also a great asset for Foxwood Diesel.”

Robert Ellis, managing director of Multiplex Engineering in Chesterfield, praised the scheme and urged other SMEs to consider applying for a place. He said: “Multiplex has actively supported apprenticeship programmes over the last 30 years and we are very impressed with the refreshing approach that the AMRC Training Centre has taken with the training that our must recent apprentice – Dan Gillam – has received.

“The structure of the training enables the student to progress at an accelerated rate and make a worthwhile contribution to the company’s operation from day one. Dan’s performance is not only appreciated by our customers but by our own workforce too.

“Dan was our first candidate on the Close Brothers SME Apprentice Programme and this year we have been fortunate to secure two more places. I would strongly recommend this training to any prospective employer.”

James Selka, CEO of the Manufacturing Technologies Association, said it is a fantastic project to be involved with and the MTA always champions the next generation of engineers.  He added: “The AMRC Training Centre provides world-class education and Close Brothers have helped alleviate the financial constraints associated with training - particularly for the SME community. It is excellent news that the apprenticeship programme will be able to impact on even more young people’s lives, changing perceptions of the industry and closing the skills gap in the process.”