Employers who take on an apprentice can get increased financial support thanks to a new initiative in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Apprenticeship Employer Grant, announced by the Scottish Government, offers up to £5,000 to employers who take on a Modern or Graduate Apprentice within their business.

The Grant aims to encourage more employers to take on an apprentice or upskill an existing staff member through an apprenticeship.

It supports employers and the economy, as well as the ambitions of the Scottish Government’s Young Person’s Guarantee.

Employers can apply for the grant from January, where the apprenticeship start date was on or after 1st December 2020 and funding will be available for starts until 25th March 2021 or until funding levels are exceeded, whichever comes first.

First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon MSP announced the grant, which will be delivered by Skills Development Scotland.

She said: “This pandemic has hit us hard – especially our young people who are facing fewer opportunities. We must help this generation who have been caught so cruelly in the eye of the COVID-19 storm.

“To do that we’ve established the £60 million Young Person’s Guarantee. It aims to give everyone aged 16-24 the opportunity of work, education or training.

“As part of that we will invest £15 million to help more employers take on an apprentice. Businesses want to give young people opportunities, but for many the impact of the pandemic will make the costs hard to meet. So we’ll pay employers up to £5,000 for every new Modern Apprentice they take on.”

The Apprenticeship Employer Grant is within a range of business support offered by SDS to support employers to take on an apprentice.

Payments for employers recruiting apprentices who have been made redundant during the pandemic are being increased from £2,000 to £5,000 through the Adopt an Apprentice scheme.

Whilst there is no cost for employers to get involved in Foundation Apprenticeships for school pupils, a financial contribution is provided towards learning for Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships.

For those who are disabled and care-experienced, there’s an enhanced funding contribution for Modern Apprentices up to and including age 29.

SDS also provides a relationship managed service supporting employers to navigate the Scottish skills system, with a team of skilled advisers on hand to help find the right apprenticeships to support business needs and access to funding support. There is also a free helpline to get help and advice (0800 783 6000).

These and other incentives are being highlighted by SDS in a nationwide campaign to encourage employers to retain and recruit apprentices.

The campaign, supported by Scottish Chambers, aims to demonstrate that apprenticeships provide the skills employers need to adapt, sustain and strengthen their businesses.

It features apprentice employers who have continued to invest in and benefit from apprenticeships in a challenging economic landscape and the business benefits of giving a young person a chance through an apprenticeship.

The application process for the Apprenticeship Employer Grant will open from the beginning of January 2021.

Further details on the grant and apprenticeships are available at apprenticeships.scot.