Many apprentices have been particularly hard hit during the pandemic and, with a Scottish Government Minister’s backing, SNIPEF, the Scotland and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation, is urging businesses to seize the opportunities offered by the Scottish Government’s Adopt an Apprentice scheme.

The programme, which has now been extended until March 25, offers a grant of £5,000 to replacement employers who take on modern apprentices and graduate apprentices who have been made redundant.

The scheme is intended to support the redundant candidate by allowing him or her to continue their apprenticeship and to work towards their qualification. The grant is designed to cover, among other things, wage costs, skills development and/or mentoring and for the Plumbing and Heating Apprenticeship is being managed by SNIPEF Training Services Limited on behalf of Skills Development Scotland.

Since the pandemic began, SNIPEF has been made aware of 32 redundant apprentices and has been able to assist with the re-employment of 25 of them by actively using its member network to help find them new employers.

Dale Thomson, Training Manager for SNIPEF, said: “Many apprentices work hard in their training, with enthusiasm, commitment and dedication, and it is very distressing to see their career potential cut off by circumstances out with their control.

“This financial incentive for employers, which will help many of these apprentices to fulfil their life’s ambition, is very opportune and very welcome, and we would urge all employers to look into it to see if they can help apprentices at the same time as adding valuable skills to their workforce.

“SNIPEF has been collecting information about apprentices who have been affected and who are looking for a new employer and this information will be available to companies wishing to take advantage of the grants.”

Fiona Hodgson, Chief Executive of SNIPEFsaid: “This scheme could help salvage some excellent future careers from the wreckage of the pandemic and we fully expect that forward-thinking employers will be happy to utilise the grant. Anyone wishing to do so can contact the SNIPEF Training services team for advice and guidance.

“It is very heartening to see such support for our apprentices. The Adopt an Apprentice scheme complements the Scottish Government’s new Apprentice Employer Grants (AEG) and a recent announcement of funding to help upskill plumbing apprentices and employees in the installation of low carbon heat technologies.”

Responding to representations made by SNIPEF, Jamie Hepburn MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Busines, Fair Work and Skills, said: “The protection of new and existing apprentices remains an absolute priority for the Scottish Government and I would like to express my thanks to SNIPEF for its continued support of Scotland’s Apprenticeships during this unprecedented time.”

SNIPEF has been at the forefront of innovation in training and skills to ensure a vibrant and dynamic industry staffed by professionals versed in the complexity of the technologies which are underpinning renewables and meeting the demand for clean energy in an age of climate change.