Close Brothers launch new apprenticeship scheme for SMEs

Through the Close Brothers SME Apprenticeship Programme, the merchant banking group will contribute to the cost of apprentices for 20 SMEs that might otherwise be unable to afford to take on a new apprentice.

The training will take place at the University of Sheffield AMRC Training Centre, with Close Brothers paying half of the new recruits’ wages during the first year and a quarter during the second year. The first intake will be this September, followed by 20 more apprentices in year two and a further 20 in year three.

Close Brothers Group has been a long-term supporter of SMEs, doubling its lending to the sector since 2009.

Stephen Hodges, chief executive of the banking division, says: “We know from our work with SMEs that many of them would like to take on apprentices, but they are worried about the cost, time and resources involved.

“Britain’s manufacturing companies urgently need to recruit and train a new generation of skilled engineering workers if they are to grow in an increasingly competitive global market; we hope our initiative will help more SMEs to do just that.”

James Selka, CEO of the Manufacturing Technologies Association, says: “Companies need highly skilled workforces to enable them to get the most out of the latest technology that they need to deploy to stay ahead. This initiative offers smaller firms the chance to be at the forefront of securing those skills for their futures.”