Small and medium-sized firms in Kirklees are being encouraged to take on higher level apprentices – through a series of council grants.

Kirklees Council said it wanted to raise awareness among businesses and increase the number of companies offering higher level apprenticeships which are delivered up to degree level.

By taking on a higher level apprentice, a business would be building a knowledgeable workforce – often drawing on a talent pool of intelligent motivated young people who have decided the traditional higher education route isn’t for them.

C&K careers, which provides careers information, advice and guidance for young people and adults in Kirklees, has appointed 20-year-old Asif Zamir, of Dewsbury, as a higher level apprentice.

He has spent two years successfully completing his advanced, level three apprenticeship with the business and is being supported by C&K Careers as he moves onto level four.

This degree-level apprenticeship is increasingly being focused on by the Government as providing a perfect option for small businesses who may question the benefits of having an apprentice within their company.

With their higher entry requirements, such as A-levels, advanced level diploma, NVQ level 3 or an advanced apprenticeship, businesses are able to expect more from their apprentice and they can bring a greater range of skills into the business which can then be grown within the firm.

Stephen Rodgers, ICT systems manager at C&K Careers, who manages Asif says having this experience – and someone who was still learning while working – was important when making the decision to offer the apprenticeship

“The higher level apprenticeship is more cost-effective for our organisation than hiring a graduate,” said Mr Rodgers.

“Although there is investment involved, we have the ability to train the apprentice in the way we want them to be trained rather than having someone coming into the business with preconceived ideas and ways of doing things.

C&K Careers

“Asif is fully integrated within C&K Careers, we see him as one of our team and treat him no differently to any other employee.

“This is a benefit of a higher level apprenticeship – you can expect more from the apprentice and we trust him to do many more technical and advanced roles, some of which I used to do myself.

“I would encourage any business questioning whether they will benefit from having an apprentice within their organisation to consider a higher level apprenticeship for the added value that individual can bring.”

Asif said the higher level apprenticeship allowed him to continue developing his skills within the company.

“Learning while working at C&K Careers has been the best of both worlds for me,” he said.

“I get to come to work and do a job I enjoy in the knowledge that I am continuing to develop my skills and come out with a degree-level qualification at the end of the apprenticeship.

“I’m really grateful for the support of the company and am committed to giving as much back as possible to them during my apprenticeship.”

Kirklees businesses employing 250 people or fewer and which haven’t previously recruited a higher level apprentice could be entitled to a grant of £1,200 for each higher level apprentice they employ – up to a maximum of three apprentices. Funding is limited and allocations are on a first come, first served basis.

The grant is available when a business employs an apprentice aged 16 to 24 and works with a training provider approved by the Skills Funding Agency.

Contact the Kirklees Apprenticeship Hub on 01484 437075, email or go to