No incentives for hiring an apprentice yet

After all the hype surrounding youth unemployment – how easy is it to access the money that the Government is promising, and how much help can businesses actually get?

It sounds great doesn’t it, a £250 million vocational training fund to get young people into work. This was reported on the 17th November, and then on the 25th November Nick Clegg announced a £1bn fund to tackle youth unemployment. The money will apparently go on job subsidies, with £2,275 offered to any business willing to hire an unemployed 18- to 24-year-old.

A billion pounds – great! As a business owner you must be thinking you can get a slice of that to help your company. Look into it further though and it doesn’t sound quite so great. The initial promise of up to a £1500 incentive for businesses taking on apprentices won’t be introduced until April 2012 and according to the apprenticeships website: “details of how the new incentive will be administered and when employers will be able to express formal interest in it are currently being developed and will be announced as soon as possible. Updates on this development will appear on this website.”

Ok – so there are no more details about the incentive yet. Read a bit further and you’ll see that the vocational fund is split over 2 years. Fine in itself, but only £50 million will be spent in year one (2012), with a further 200 million in year two (2013). We’re not even sure if this fund is covering the cost of the apprenticeship incentive payment. Most of the money won’t be accessible for at least another year and a half.

What about the subsidy then? Up to £2,275 apparently. The apprenticeship website doesn’t explain this in too much detail either. The details are still being thought out – “details of this subsidy are currently being developed and updates will appear on this website.”

Sounds familiar doesn’t it, but the wording is also a bit confusing. Firstly, an incentive payment of £1500 (paid in two installments). Easy enough. But then you read about £2,275 payment.

Employer subsidy to employ a jobless young person

From April 2012, an incentive of £2,275 will be available for small employers who employ a jobless 18-24 year old for a period of 6 months. The subsidy will support work and training placements.

Is this a top up incentive? The £1,500 seems a simple two stage payment. The £2,275 attaches a 6 month extra criteria and specifies an age range. It is also referred to as a subsidy, whilst the £1,500 payment is simply an incentive payment.

I may have over-complicated this – but if this is the information we can gather from the official apprenticeships website, then how are other employers going to interpret the information?

Big initiatives are great – when they are simple and they are accessible. Put barriers in the way and all of sudden it seems like it is just another soundbite. I’m going to do some further research and hopefully will be back with another post confirming that I believe that these initiatives will really help tackle youth unemployment!

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