London Mayor delivers multi-million pound fund to SMEs
Mayor of London Boris Johnson has announced the delivery of a multi-million pound cash injection in a bid to encourage more small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the capital to take on more apprentices in 2015. Starting this month, the £14 million fund will enable SMEs in the city to benefit from the enhanced Apprentice Grant for Employers (AGE), which will increase from the current limit of £1,500 to £3,000. The fund has been secured by the London Enterprise Panel (LEP) through its growth deal with the government and will allow employers to apply for £3,000 per apprentice they take on. Mr Johnson's announcement follows a trial project that was funded by the LEP and carried out last year, in which SMEs received the enhanced £3,000 grant for a three-month period. During the trial, the number of AGE-supported apprentices in London rose from 1,765 to 2,222, subsequently sparking high demand for the increased grant permanently set in place. There are over 900,000 private sector small and medium-sized businesses with a combined turnover of over £460 billion in London. Mr Johnson believes that these companies are crucial to helping young people in London step onto the career ladder and achieve success. Skills minister Nick Boles said: "Apprentices offer businesses of all sizes the chance to increase their talent pool and get the skills they need grow. "Over 100,000 apprenticeships across the country have already been supported through the AGE, and it's good to see that the Greater London Authority are building on this successful model to grow apprenticeships further in the capital's thriving small businesses." The Mayor urges employers across the city to make use of the cash incentive. Virtual College provide a range of online tools and resources to further education colleges and training providers to support apprenticeship delivery.