The programme follows the government’s introduction in April of the Apprenticeship Levy, which is an initiative to get three million apprentices in training by 2020.

The Apprenticeship Levy is paid by all employers with a minimum pay bill above £3 million a year. The Levy is charged at 0.5% of organisations’ annual pay bill.

Milton Keynes-based Activa Contracts, part of the Arnold Clark group of companies, will offer apprenticeships in business services covering courses focused on business administration and customer service. The courses will lead to apprentices gaining National Vocational Qualifications.

Apprenticeships will take 12-18 months to complete.

Activa Contracts’ customer services director Karen McCarthy (pictured) said: “The jobs market in Milton Keynes is hugely competitive and the city has a very low unemployment rate. We believe that offering a comprehensive apprenticeship and significant career prospects to school leavers will be hugely attractive to 16-year-olds.

“As a major employer the Arnold Clark business as a whole is subject to the Apprenticeship Levy and Activa Contracts has to pay its share. Therefore, with an in-house training facility approved to deliver levy-funded courses, the company can benefit from the Levy and its investment in apprenticeships.”

Activa Contracts’ apprenticeship programme further enhances its focus on employee development and skills enhancement. Three employees recently passed NVQs in customer service and a fourth member of staff expected to follow suit shortly.

Ms McCarthy said: “The apprenticeship programme will help school leavers to get their feet on the career ladder. Activa Contracts is a growing business and the company can offer young people a structured career development programme starting with the apprenticeship.”

The programme includes on-the-job training at its Milton Keynes headquarters in Kingston.

The programme will be delivered by GTG (Glasgow Training Group), which has training centres in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Wolverhampton and, like Activa Contracts, is a member of the Arnold Clark group of companies.

It is on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers approved to provide apprenticeships to levy-paying employers.

Managing director Ian Hill said: “Apprentices can bring in fresh ideas and energise other employees. Apprenticeships can also result in a more skilled and loyal workforce.

“We want to encourage young people to join Activa Contracts. Milton Keynes is virtually at full employment so recruitment can be difficult and time-consuming. As an expanding business we have the ability to recruit school leavers and give them a solid start to their business career.

“By recruiting school leavers, as well as graduates, we can train them the Arnold Clark way. The group employees more than 11,000 people and has a strong track record for promoting from within across its various businesses so to recruit young people at the start of their working life will potentially deliver many career opportunities.” 

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