THE chief executive of the newly launched Leeds Apprenticeship Training Agency (ATA) said he expects to have 200 businesses on board by the end of this year.
Founded in partnership with the Leeds City College and Leeds City Council, the Leeds ATA matches businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, with apprentices.
It is a non-profit making company whose goal is “to build the foundation for sustainable business in Leeds area”, said Stephen Fieldhouse.
He said it addresses business needs, initially helping firms develop their business plans and goals, and then looking at new avenues to enhance their profits and return on investment.
The Leeds ATA acts as the legal employer of the apprentice.
This means that it is responsible for the apprentice’s employment, company headcount, weekly payroll, NI, pension, and HR matters.
Mr Fieldhouse said in three weeks, having engaged with just over 100 businesses, he’s had interest from 45 with 36 apprenticeships within 32 businesses agreed so far.
Mr Fieldhouse, who has a background in the print and graphics marketing industry, having started his career as an apprentice in Leeds, said: “The ATA is primarily aimed at business.
It is there to cut out the red tape that taking on apprentices in the past has entailed.
“It is also about changing the perception of apprentices and you’ve got to businesses and discuss business with a business-minded attitude.”
He added: “Taking on apprentices can reduce skill shortages, minimize staff turnover, allow fresh talent to be nurtured whilst increasing productivity; offering a cost-effective method for recruiting and creating a competitive edge to increase profits.”
The Leeds ATA is the subject of Government funding but Mr Fieldhouse said he expects it to become self-sustaining in 18 months. Businesses pay certain fees to benefit from the service. Those interested in taking on an apprentice can contact the Leeds ATA on 0113 220 6370 or email info@ATALeeds.co.uk
* The YEP’s Leeds Works campaign is asking businesses to create new apprenticeship schemes to help tackle youth unemployment.