The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), a charitable foundation trust, has launched the SMMT Apprentice Support Programme to safeguard the jobs of apprenticeships currently working in the automotive industry.

The scheme has been set up as the government-funded furlough scheme comes to an end. SMMT earmarks £100,000 to cover all or part of the salary of an apprentice currently employed by a small or medium sized business within the UK automotive industry, but due to pressures to the business as a result of COVID-19, may now be at risk of redundancy.

Almost 60,000 young people are currently employed in apprenticeship positions across the sector and play an important role in the future of businesses, including their growth, across the automotive supply chain.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “The UK Automotive industry is built on decades of craftsmanship, engineering excellence and innovation delivered by a highly skilled workforce – and its long-term recovery and growth will depend on retaining and developing this skills base.

That’s why it’s so important that we do everything possible to ensure that we don’t let young talent slip through our hands as we strive to overcome the current crisis. Today’s apprentices are tomorrow’s leaders, and this scheme will help protect their jobs now so that they can help drive our future success.”

The focus will be on those small and medium businesses that are struggling to retain apprentices as a result of the current climate, aiming to secure exisiting young talen within their businesses.

The scheme is open to SMMT member companies and, to ensure the sector’s commitment to safeguarding these jobs, requires successful applicants to make a contribution towards the full £14,000 apprentice salary as business needs permit, in order to unlock a stipend as made available by the SMMT.

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The deadline for submissions for the programme is 16th October 2020 with successful applicants being informed between 26-30 October 2020.

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