A NEW free business support service is set to provide a helping hand to small and medium-sized enterprises in the Craven area which are thinking of recruiting a young person as an apprentice.

The North Yorkshire Apprenticeship hub offers impartial advice, and support, to help businesses through the maze of choosing an apprenticeship framework, identifying the right training provider, and employing the best apprentice.

The one-stop-shop approach offers information on the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE), which can offer businesses £1,500, provided they have not taken on an apprentice within the last 12 months.

The service is part of the Leeds City Region initiative, which aims to encourage business growth, and the new hub will provide an essential hand-holding service according to manager Karen Leah.

She said: “Businesses throughout the country are seeing the advantages of recruiting an apprentice. “About 96 per cent of employers report benefits to their business with more than 80 per cent seeing an increase in productivity.

“However, for the busy small business it can be a challenging process, which is why the hub offers a vital service. “It will considerably reduce the time commitment for employers as identifying frameworks and training providers, and help with applications can be carried out by the hub.

“There are 280 different apprenticeship frameworks, ranging from general business administration, to specialist para legal, engineering, or marketing, covering more than 1,500 jobs roles.”

Anyone wanting more information about taking advantage of the service should book an appointment by contacting Karen at apprenticeship hub@northyorks.gov.uk