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“You’re hired!”

Not something that young people hear very often these days (unless they are lucky enough to win one of Alan Sugar’s coveted Apprenticeships) and, if the latest unemployment predictions from the CIPD and the Quarterly Economic Survey are to be believed, young people are going to find it increasingly difficult to get a foot on the career ladder in the coming year.

Regular readers of this column will know how passionate I am about supporting young people. Its one of those chicken and egg situations…employers say that young people don’t have the skills and experience they are looking for, but on the other hand young people can’t get those skills and experience if nobody will hire them.

That’s why I was delighted to hear the Government’s recent announcement that small companies will be eligible to receive a payment of £1,500 if they take on an apprentice aged 16-24.  Any company employing less than 250 staff who has not taken on an apprentice in the last year will be eligible for the grant, which is payable in two stages.

Aside from helping a young person to develop those all important work skills, taking on an apprentice had tremendous benefits for businesses. Contrary to what the press will have you believe, in my experience most young people are committed and enthusiastic and will bring energy and innovation to your workforce. And, as Alan Sugar has found, developing an apprentice also gives you the opportunity to recruit fresh new talent and develop them into the kind of employee you want, with exactly the skills you want. That has to be a “win-win” situation.

So, with unemployment on the rise and rising tuition fees leading more and more young people to think about alternative routes to university, this incentive couldn’t have come at a better time.

The grant will be available shortly, so if you would like further information or to register your interest email Anthony Kay at the National Apprenticeships Service: anthony.kay@apprenticeships.gov.uk