An additional 200 graduates are expected to be recruited by businesses in the advanced manufacturing and engineering sector across the UK after funds to support their employment and training were announced today.

Semta, the sector skills council for science, engineering and manufacturing submitted a proposal to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) to provide small and medium sized companies with the grants to support the employment and training of graduates via their Employer Investment Fund (EIF).

The UKCES has now awarded a contract to Semta which will deliver genuine reductions in youth unemployment by March 2013, with at least one third of the opportunities in the devolved nations – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Semta’s UK operations director Lynn Tomkins said: “This money will make a real difference. Only 15% of SMEs in Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (AME) employ graduates. Our ambition is to see this rise to 17% over the next three years.

“It will take 200 young people off the unemployment register and into paid and productive employment, resulting in them becoming economically active and contributing to UK Plc.”

Semta has been delivering incentivised training and support for apprentices through the EIF but this is the first time grants have been available to specifically help graduate recruitment.

Andy Robinson, MD of Autotech, said the incentive would mean firms like his could work with Semta to recruit with confidence and more quickly than might otherwise have been the case.

Autotech is an SME that design, install, maintain and upgrade electronic control systems and specialising in logistics, automotive, airports, food beverage, facilities and manufacturing who have barriers attracting the right people to meet business needs.

Mr Robinson said: “We need up to six engineering graduates to help us meet business needs and to help bring new skills into our operation. This project will go a long way to helping us achieve our aims.”