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Specialists gain apprentice cash

A funding initiative by the Learning and Skills Council could pay to train thousands of extra apprentices in up to 200 specialist trades.

The council has said it will pay training costs for young people entering specialist trades that are not covered in a normal apprenticeship. These costs could be up to £9,000 a year and previously had to be met by the company training the apprentice.

Training will focus on ‘pinch-point’ trades, where a lack of skilled staff can hold up a whole operation.

So far, 16 trades have developed their own so-called ‘specialist apprenticeships’ to cover areas of -construction such as sealant application and resin flooring.

Nearly 200 apprentices will be in training this year but the number is expected to grow significantly in future years as many more trade associations follow suit.

Suzannah Nichol, chief executive of the National Specialist Contractors’ Council, said: “In most cases, this -training is for very small numbers of people.

“But what we’ve found with the skills shortage is that it is focused in very specialised areas and that these areas vary in different regions of the country.

“A lack of apprentices in one of these ‘pinch-point’ trades can hold up an entire job.

“In the past few years a lot of trade bodies have developed their own programmes to counter a lack of training in general apprenticeships.”

The LSC funding is currently estimated to be worth around £1 million a year but could rise as the popularity of specialist apprenticeships continues to grow.