YORK is to become one of eight apprenticeship hubs in the region after Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership was awarded £4.6 million from the Government.

Harrogate, Selby and Craven will also join forces to form a North Yorkshire hub.

Harrogate Borough Council, which has been allocated £63,000 of the funding, intends to support the creation of 40 new apprenticeships in the district, and it said that combined with Craven and Selby, it hoped to create 100 apprenticeships.

By 2015, the city region as a whole intends to generate 2,500 additional apprenticeship places for 16- to 24-year-olds with small and medium-sized businesses.

Coun Alan Skidmore, Harrogate Borough Council’s cabinet member for planning, transport and economic development, said: “We are currently working up proposals with Craven and Selby District Councils which would see us pool our individual grant allocations so that the funding would grow to nearly £160,000, with a target of creating 100 new apprenticeships across the three council areas.

“Our economic development team will be speaking to businesses in the district to both inform and persuade them of the benefits of employing young people as apprentices. This is an investment with long-lasting benefits.”

City of York Council, working with the National Apprenticeship Service and York Training Providers Group, will appoint a local business development officer to meet firms interested in taking on apprentices and improve apprenticeship information for small and medium-sized businesses and young people aged 16 to 24. The council allocation will be £138,000 over three years.

Coun James Alexander, York council leader and vice chairman of the Leeds City Region employment and skills board, said: “The council has long been a champion of apprenticeships as a way to help us tackle youth unemployment and reduce the number of young people not in education, employment or training. But we also know that every £1 invested in apprenticeships generates £18 back to the economy and provides long-lasting benefits for the business sector.

“These initiatives will help to ensure that young people in York who are keen to earn and learn will get quality opportunities across a range of industries and we will be able to match the best city talent to apprenticeships to support local businesses grow and prosper.”