The recent funding boost of £190 million for apprenticeships, aims to bring a further 100,000 under 23s into the UK workforce.
The announcement follows December’s report in Pool & Spa Scene on the possible future skills crisis within the leisure industry, caused by an ageing workforce and a gap in the industry’s specialist knowledge.
The funding boost will extend the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers scheme (AGE), which focuses on small businesses with fewer than 50 employees, and allows employers who have not had an apprentice in the last year to receive a £1,500 grant for each employee between the ages of 16-24.
West Sussex-based Bell Leisure Ltd is already benefitting from the government’s AEG scheme, having taken on two young apprentices last year. Lawrence Pearce of Bell Leisure comments: “The bursary is a good incentive for any company looking to invest in the future, but realistically it goes little way in covering the costs that are incurred by the employer.”
The Bell Leisure apprentices are part way through their college courses – one in electrics and the other in engineering. The grant goes towards their college books, tools, kit and equipment. Lawrence adds: “For the industry to grow we need to be investing in the next generation, but it is important for employers to consider the long-term costs involved.”
Nationwide leisure provider Everyone Active has welcomed the budget announcement and hopes that the increase will encourage more companies within the industry to take on youngsters. Harvey Gosling, group training manager said: “We actively support offering apprenticeship opportunities to colleagues and young people at the leisure centres we manage – we delivered 230 apprenticeships last year.
“We view the programmes as a great way of offering training and employment opportunities to young people in our sector,” he added.
Neale Coleman, commercial director of Active IQ, an awarding body of leisure vocational qualifications, commented: “The prospect of employer ownership of apprenticeships has created uncertainty for current apprenticeship training providers.
Neale adds: “So although the recent announcement within the budget is broadly positive, the focus still needs to be on designing and delivering apprenticeships that are valued by employers and young people for the benefit of the whole active leisure sector and wider economy.”