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More than 240 businesses across Hull and the East Riding have taken on manufacturing and engineering apprentices, thanks to a series of wage subsidies.

Apprentice Holly Dyson, from The Water Hydraulics Company Ltd

Implemented by the Employment and Skills Development strand of the Green Port Growth Programme (GPGP), which is supported by the Regional Growth Fund, the apprenticeship subsidy allows companies to train engineers of the future at a reduced cost. The scheme has been created to supply apprentices to businesses in Hull and the East Riding who may at some stage be faced with recruitment needs in the wake of emerging renewables projects.

The first wage subsidies were offered from July 2012 and, to date, the scheme has supported around 580 apprentices and is going from strength to strength.

Bob Ferraby, the Green Port Growth Programme’s Employment and Skills Development Strand Lead, explains:

“The apprenticeship wage subsidies are proving a great success. Not only has the programme enabled young people to take the first step into this thriving sector, but it has been beneficial for businesses. The wage subsidy allows companies to take on an apprentice with little financial investment, and gives them the opportunity to train someone up who will contribute to their business. Most firms involved are taking on their apprentice as a full-time employee once the apprenticeship comes to an end.

“The apprenticeship wage subsidy was originally based on the Engineering Manufacturing Craft and Technician framework, which made a sound basis for our range of support. As the programme has developed, apprenticeships now cover Power Sector, Warehousing and Operations and Logistics Operations. The range of apprenticeship frameworks eligible for subsidy is constantly evolving as the skills needs of the offshore wind sector, its associated supply chain and the sectors affected by employment churn become clearer.”

Holly Dyson, 19, gained a mechanical assemblies fitter position with Hull-based The Water Hydraulics Company Ltd after leaving school. Holly has been in the role for three years and is completing her NVQ Level 3 in Engineering. She is the company’s only female engineer and is responsible for assembling pumps, motors and valves for water hydraulics systems used across the world.

Rob Moulds, General Manager at The Water Hydraulics Company Ltd, commented:

“We pride ourselves on investing in our workforce and believe apprenticeships are a great way to recruit our engineers of the future. The support we’ve received from the Green Port Growth Programme has enabled us to take on Holly, who is thriving and making a positive contribution to our business.

“Not only is the subsidy beneficial for individual companies in Hull and the East Riding, but it is strengthening our local workforce as a whole and making it easier for businesses like ours to take on young people with a keen interest in manufacturing and engineering. It gives them their first step onto the career ladder.”

The wage subsidies were put in place following early discussions with investors about what skills and training they would need. Half of the Green Port Growth Programme’s £12million employment and skills allocation is devoted to supporting advanced apprenticeship frameworks, and the recruitment and employment of 850 apprentices.

Businesses that recruit an apprentice are then free to use the training provider of their choice. In the case of the Engineering Manufacture Craft and Technician framework, for example, the employer receives a wage subsidy of £80 per week for the first year of the apprenticeship framework and £60 per week for the second year. No subsidy is paid during the third and final year of the apprenticeship framework. This recognises the high costs faced by the employer during the first year of the apprenticeship and the fact the apprentice will start to generate income during Year 2 and to an even greater degree in Year 3 – thus providing support when it is most needed.

In addition to the apprenticeship wage subsidy, 394 individuals have also broadened and built on their skills through the Green Port Growth Programme’s upskilling subsidy, enabling employers to access training subsidies for existing employees. The programme will reimburse employers the direct training costs incurred. To date, 81 businesses have received this subsidy.

Interested employers can telephone Hull City Council on 01482 613875 for an informal discussion. Alternatively, visit http://greenporthull.co.uk/business-support-investment/skills-development for more information.