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Apprentices have the cutting edge


Salon owner Suzanne Winfield is set to benefit from a £2,000 grant towards taking on an apprentice. The hairdresser, who opened her business Winfield and Jones in Francis Street, Stoneygate, just 12 months ago, is already reaping the rewards after taking on 16-year-old Ellie Green in August. Now, she is in line for a cash grant from Leicester City Council’s Working Neighbourhood Fund.

The £2,000 grants are available to employers across Leicestershire who employ 16 to 21 year olds from Leicester. They are intended to contribute towards the apprentice’s wages and help those who would otherwise not be in education or training.

Suzanne said: “l had already taken Ellie on when she found out about the grants which were available and told me. I’m now going through the application process and have been told I’m a good candidate. l’m just waiting to hear back. “lt wouldn’t have made a difference to me taking Ellie on but it’s certainly going to be a help if I get it. I’m sure there are lots of business owners out there who might be encouraged to take on an apprentice if they can get a bit if help towards the costs. “Taking on an apprentice is a commitment but l wanted to give someone young a chance and it means I get to mould them to the standards I want.”

The Leicester Mercury hopes to make employers aware of the fund through its Working Together Campaign, designed to raise the profile of apprenticeships. We have teamed up with the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) to make sure school leavers are aware of their options and that employers realise the benefits of taking on an apprentice, including the grants which are available, providing apprentices start by the end of October.

Ellie said: “When I found out about the money I told Suzanne straight away because I know how much it could help. “l’d encourage other apprentices to tell their new employers about it to be in with a chance. I’m really enjoying my apprenticeship. It’s something I’d always wanted to do and learning on the job is proving the best way to do it.” The Leicester College teenager is now working as an apprentice hairdresser at the salon and divides her time between learning in the classroom and on the job.

Businesses must employ no more than 50 people to be eligible for the grant and have never previously taken on an apprentice. NAS gives out the money on behalf of the city council.

Once a business is approved for a cash grant, it is handed out in two instalments, one at the beginning of the apprenticeship and one 13 weeks later. Most apprenticeship learning is on the job with support from colleges throughout the apprenticeship.