Industry welcomes apprenticeship funding commitment

Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s summer statement on 8th July has revealed a number of interventions to help stimulate the economic recovery from coronavirus that could also be a shot in the arm for the plumbing and heating sector. The mini-budget lays out plans to fund a boost to the ‘green economy’ and to provide support for apprenticeships.

The CHIPE says it is encouraged by the emphasis on putting young people to work with apprenticeship guarantees. Such a commitment would enable everyone between the ages of 16 and 25, with the right qualifications, to access to an apprenticeship in a relevant business or social enterprise.

Under government plans, employers will be paid for creating new apprenticeships over the next six months, with a payment of £2000 per apprentice under the age of 25 and a payment of £1500 for older apprentices hired.

The Chancellor also announced the introduction of a new ‘Kickstart jobs scheme’ to create work placements for unemployed young people and £111m investment into Traineeships, by offering businesses £1000 for every trainee they give a work placement to.

Kevin Wellman, CEO of the CIPHE says: “While we welcome financial help for employers taking on new apprentices, we would urge Government to dig deeper to help micro SMEs. Without employers, there are no apprenticeship places and many members of the plumbing and heating industry have been hit hardest of all by the country’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic. We also need to see increased support for the over 25’s and for the wider education sector. With a large wave of redundancies forecast to hit the country when the furlough scheme ends, there are many people likely to be changing career who run the risk of signing onto rogue training courses without adequate measures introduced.”

The news on education and employment opportunities comes on top of the Government’s announcement on ‘Green Home’ vouchers. Under the Green Homes Grant scheme, the government will give homeowners in England vouchers up to £5000 for energy saving home improvements. The poorest households will be eligible for grants up to £10,000, without having to contribute to the cost at all. The £2bn grant scheme is part of a wider £3bn plan to cut emissions while also helping to support more than 100,000 jobs.

The scheme, due to launch in September, will cover improvements such as boiler upgrades, double glazing and insulation. Homeowners will apply online for recommended energy efficient measures and be given details of accredited local suppliers. Vouchers will be issued once a quote has been provided and the work approved.

The budget announcement also pledged a further £1 billion to be invested in making public buildings such as schools and hospitals more energy efficient, including £50 million to improve social housing.

This funding comes on top of the £5bn ‘New Deal for Britain’ announced by the Prime Minister last week, which is earmarked for building homes and infrastructure and providing much needed repairs and upgrades to hospitals, schools and FE colleges.

Debbie Petford, director of legal and commercial at the BESA (Building Engineering Services Association), comments: “This is all very welcome spending that will help to generate a pipeline of work for SMEs in our sector. It is a bold plan that will address the twin challenges of cutting carbon and creating meaningful employment.”

“More than 500,000 people left the construction sector during the last recession and we simply cannot afford for anything like that number to be lost again,” adds director of BESA training, Helen Yeulet. “We applaud the Chancellor’s efforts to address the wider employment picture, but additional support will be needed if we are to be able to retain our skilled people while welcoming fresh talent into the sector.”


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