AN incentive scheme has been devised to persuade Bolton employers to put their faith in apprentices.

Bosses from small and medium-sized firms (SME) can apply for up to £3,000, as part of a Greater Manchester Combined Authority grant scheme, if they take on a trainee.

Bolton has been ranked in the region for its commitment to hiring apprentices and council chiefs are hoping that 50 new starters will be taken on this year.

And last week Bolton at Home was lauded for its apprenticeship programme, which supports 36 young workers across a variety of trade and office vocations.

Firms can follow the example of Smithills-based Adam Lawson Joinery Ltd , which took on 19-year-old Callum Harwood as part of a carpentry and joinery apprenticeship through Bolton College.

Mr Lawson said: "Having Callum on site has been a huge benefit. He's here to learn, but at the same time he really helps to move jobs along.

"It's also good to give something back to society and give a young person a chance in life.

"The construction industry definitely needs more apprentices, at the moment I don't think there's enough coming through which is a shame, as they can only benefit the industry.”

Callum added: "Working on site has given me so many practical skills and has really prepared me for work in the future.

"In Bolton College, the experience has been great. The tutors are so knowledgeable, and I've picked up a lot of skills from them too.

"Once I finish my apprenticeship, I'd like to stick in the joinery trade and eventually have people working for me."

The apprentice grant is just one element from a package of measures, offered by town hall officials, to smooth the way for trainees.

Specialist advisors are also on hand to provide expert assistance concerning how apprentices can be integrated into the workforce, and what benefits they might provide.

Cllr Martyn Cox, the borough council's deputy leader, said: "We have an excellent record in Bolton when it comes to taking on and developing apprentices, and the SME support grant is a great opportunity to build on that success.

"An experienced and well-trained workforce is vital for the future of the local economy and we are particularly keen to engage with sectors where we know there is a skills gap.

"GMCA has awarded Business Bolton the second highest amount for the SME support grant and we are aiming to see 50 new quality apprenticeships created in Bolton by next year."

Companies interested in taking part in the grant scheme can go online to register, or find out more, via