CHANCELLOR Rishi Sunak may give firms £3,000 for each apprentice they hire — to help fight growing youth unemployment.
It would be paid directly to employers for each new recruit under the age of 25.
The handout, described as “a bounty,” would mean firms got part of the cash when they take on a young worker and the remainder when the apprenticeship ends.
Boris Johnson has said he will guarantee every young person an apprenticeship following the Covid-19 pandemic and wants small firms to lead the way in recruiting.
Even before the coronavirus crisis, the number of firms hiring apprentices had fallen sharply.
In the first half of the 2019/20 academic year the number of starts had dropped 15 per cent for those aged 16 to 19.
Mr Johnson set out his hopes for apprenticeships in a letter to Commons Liaison Committee head Sir Bernard Jenkin.
He wrote: “We will develop new measures to grow the economy and to boost skills.
“For apprenticeships, we are looking at how we can support employers, especially small businesses, to take on new apprentices this year.
Incentive for firms
“We will also ensure that there is sufficient funding.”
Mr Johnson is expected to expand on his plans tomorrow.
Mr Sunak is likely to outline the Government’s jobs recovery strategy next week.
Commons Education committee chairman Robert Halfon will tomorrow set out proposals he believes that ministers could implement to encourage firms to hire apprentices.
His scheme, similar to that being considered by Mr Sunak, calls for the Government’s £3billion National Skills Fund to cover training costs and the first year’s salary for small and medium-sized businesses that take on young apprentices.
But he also wants an overhaul of the existing Apprenticeship Levy, a tax on employers to fund training.
Mr Halfon says employers should be allowed to access the levy to fully fund training of a younger apprentice or someone from a disadvantaged background — but only partly fund an older apprentice.
Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Gillian Keegan said yesterday: “Apprenticeships are an excellent way to get into a wide range of rewarding and valuable careers.
“We will ensure there is sufficient funding this year to support smaller businesses wanting to take on an apprentice.”