The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) has introduced AGE 16 and 17, a new grant of £2,500 that will enable employers to offer 5,000 new apprenticeship places and take on an unemployed 16 or 17 year-old apprentice immediately.

The grant is specifically targeting those employers who aren’t in a position to recruit an apprentice at this point in time or those who can offer more places than usual.

“We particularly want to support small and medium sized employers who are interested in employing an apprentice for the first time, or who want to employ an additional apprentice over their traditional level of recruitment,” said a spokesperson for NAS.

Larger organisations who can demonstrate a level of overtraining to support smaller employers providing apprenticeships in their sector may also be eligible for the grant.

Employers will receive the grant in two payments – £1,500 when the young person starts their apprenticeship and a further £1,000 after 12 weeks.

All 16 and 17-year-olds who are not in employment or already on an apprenticeship programme are eligible. This includes those who may have had a place in college or school but have subsequently dropped out.

“We recognise the particular issues faced by young people in the current economic climate and we want to support them and ensure that we are training a new generation for economic recovery,” said a spokesperson for NAS.

16 -17 year-olds not in full time education have seen the largest absolute fall in their employment rate since the start of the recession. But Connexions say that a significant proportion of their customers in this age group are interested and enthusiastic in looking for work.

AGE 16 and 17 is available immediately to employers who are able to offer a job opportunity to an unemployed young person aged 16 or 17 and will be running until the end of March 2010.

To express your interest in receiving support through AGE 16 and 17 contact the National Apprenticeship Service.