Braintree: Portas money to be used for apprentice training

Shoppers in Bank St., Braintree.
Pic: Clifford Hicks

Shoppers in Bank St., Braintree. Pic: Clifford Hicks

Councillors in a north Essex town which received money through the Mary Portas scheme are offering to help retailers pay for their apprentices’ training.

Braintree was awarded £86,500 last July after being selected as a beneficiary of the second round of the High Street Innovation Fund – an initiative championed by the retail guru.

Now some of that money is being offered to traders, who can apply for a grant of up to £2,600 to help with the costs of taking on an apprentice and developing their skills.

Under the scheme Braintree Town Team and Braintree District Council are offering to match fund the salary of up to six apprentices across the town for the next year. It will be available to small and medium-sized retailers, with preference given to shops in the town centre.

Braintree district councillor Chris Siddall, cabinet member for prosperity and growth, urged businesses to get involved with the scheme.

He said: “This is a great scheme that will have a really positive impact for young people, for employers and for the town. I’m pleased that we can make it available in Braintree.

“It’s critical to invest in creating the skills that we need in Braintree so that we are able to compete in a very tough financial market, I have no doubt this is a win-win situation – what better way to invest in your business: the young person gets a great opportunity and the business get an opportunity to shape an new worker for the future.”

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The scheme will be managed by national training provider Seetec, who will be involved in matching apprentices with businesses based on their skills and experience. Once placed, Seetec will provide one-to-one tuition and on-the job training for the apprentices. The training is expected to last a year, with apprentices working towards a recognised retail qualification with options to tailor the training to specific retail situations.

Business development manager at Seetec, Alice King, added: “This scheme is as great way to boost your business and give a young person a chance of a career.”

“Funding will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, however preference will be given to retailers in Braintree town centre.

“If an independent retailer is unsuccessful or not eligible for the grant from Braintree Town Team, it may still be eligible for other government funding to assist with training.”

Other schemes funded by the Portas money in Braintree to date include Christmas and Easter street fairs, a ‘Love your market’ project to encourage new market stalls, and a pop-up shop offering start-up businesses temporary space at reduced rent.