SMMT steps in to save apprenticeship jobs in the car industry

A trade association has set up a fund to save apprenticeship jobs in the car industry as the government’s furlough scheme comes to an end.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) Charitable Trust Fund has launched the SMMT Apprentice Support Programme to protect apprentices that currently work in the automotive industry.

It has put aside £100,000 to cover all or part of the salary of apprentices that work for small and medium-sized businesses in the UK car industry, but whose jobs are at risk because of Covid-19-related business pressures.

The scheme is designed to help retain talent at these businesses, which must be SMMT members. Successful applicants must also ‘make a contribution towards the full £14,000 apprentice salary as business needs permit’.

Applicants must be able to demonstrate that without the funding, the apprenticeship would be forced to end. They must also show how the candidate will add to the long-term success of the business as well as their own potential career path, and submit a personal statement from the chosen candidate.

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.”

Gareth Jones, chairman of the SMMT Charitable Trust Fund, said, “As a former technical apprentice myself I can only imagine the devastating impact of losing your apprenticeship, particularly if you are close to completing your qualification.

“This timely and much needed initiative from the STCF will provide critical and well targeted support to ensure we retain some fantastic talent and potential in our industry.”

Applications for the fund have opened today and the deadline is October 16.