The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has launched a £100,000 fund to help Covid-hit automotive businesses save apprenticeship jobs as the government’s furlough scheme comes to an end.

The newly launched SMMT Apprentice Support Programme, funded by the SMMT Charitable Trust Fund, is accepting applications from small and medium automotive firms from across the entire supply chain.

Successful applicants to the scheme will have apprentice salaries covered for those apprentices at risk of redundancy due to Covid-19 pressures.

Salaries will be covered either entirely or in part for a year to help the sector retain young talent.

The sector currently employs around 59,000 apprentices which SMMT argues are vital to the future growth of businesses across the entire automotive supply chain.

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.”

The scheme is open to SMMT member companies.

The scheme requires firms that successfully apply to make a contribution towards the full £14,000 apprentice salary.

Applicants must be able to demonstrate that without the funding, the business would be forced to discontinue the apprenticeship.

They must also detail how the chosen candidate will add to the long-term success of the business, stipulating their potential prospects and career path beyond the apprenticeship training.

A personal statement from the chosen candidate is also required.

Further information is provided at:

The deadline for all applications is 16 October 2020.