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Cash for placement plan

Government to consider cash incentive for employers to help encourage more work placements

EDUCATION minister Ivan Lewis has confirmed that the Government is considering giving extra cash to employers to encourage more of them to offer placements for apprentices.

Mr Lewis, skills and vocational education minister, told Construction News: 'We have just launched a marketing campaign aimed at employers and we will also allow individual sector skills councils the chance to argue for reallocation of funding through their agreements.

'These are very early days but we are also looking at the possibility of a small financial incentive for employers to help with apprenticeships.'

CITB-ConstructionSkills has been campaigning for more support for employers or for the Learning and Skills Council to redirect funding from further education colleges.

Currently, employers receive a maximum of £6,772 in grants over three years but the grant system is at full capacity - leaving apprentices who have completed their training struggling to find placements.

Mr Lewis added that it was too early to say what form extra financial aid would take.

The minister was chairing a conference in London to review progress a year on from the launch of a Government White Paper on skills.

At the event, which was attended by Chancellor Gordon Brown and trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt, CBI director general Digby Jones demanded more attention on vocational training and called on the Government to use its power as a procurer to encourage training.

He said: 'We need to use Government procurement as a serious delivery mechanism to improve the country - it should not be overlooked.'

Two construction firms, Advanced Flooring and Roofing, based in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, and Essex firm Penlaw, paid tribute to the benefits gained from their involvement in the new Employer Training Pilots which reimburse firms for the cost of releasing employees during normal working hours.