Cameron announces fund to support higher apprenticeships

Prime minster David Cameron today announced details of a £25m fund aimed at supporting up to 10,000 advanced and higher apprenticeships.

According to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Higher Apprenticeships Fund will support the expansion of apprenticeships up to degree equivalent in companies, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, where there is unmet demand for the higher-level skills.

Industry representatives — including those from advanced manufacturing, information technology and engineering — are now being invited to bid for the fund, which will be delivered via the National Apprenticeship Service. The new apprenticeships will commence from October 2011.

‘The Higher Apprenticeships Fund is a crucial step towards placing vocational learning on a par with academic study, giving bright youngsters the opportunity to work with and build the most dynamic firms in the country,’ said business secretary Vince Cable.

The £25m for the Higher Apprenticeships Fund is part of a package of additional investment in apprenticeships totalling £180m, announced in this year’s budget.

The fund will reportedly build on support offered to business via the Growth and Innovation Fund and the Growth Review, which are designed to target government support on companies and sectors that will benefit most from additional investment in skills training.

‘Apprenticeships make good business sense for young people and employers,’ said Nigel Whitehead, BAE Systems’ group managing director. ‘The advanced training offered by higher apprenticeships will help the UK meet its skills requirements over the next decade.’