MORE THAN £500,000 could be spent on a new apprenticeship programme in Caerphilly county borough, a report has revealed.

Caerphilly council want the scheme to support employment within the area, and neighbouring authorities, while tackling an ageing workforce.

Currently there are 35 apprentices employed across the borough, with 29 based in housing, four in schools and two in horticulture.

Apprenticeships in Caerphilly have been offered at two pay grades – £21,946 and £22,608 – with the majority being based in the building trade to satisfy future council demand.

To supplement existing staff, the one-off sum could pay for 23 new apprenticeships during a single year, or 11 over a two-year period.

The move will be the first time the council has directly funded apprenticeships since 2011/12 when a budget of £485,000 was made, creating 40 new apprenticeships and four trainee opportunities.

The budget was cut to £150,000 in 2015/16 and eventually scrapped from 2016/17 due to ongoing savings measures.

Since then capital underspends have been ringfenced into a usable reserve which, as of March 31, stood at £530,000.

But the council admit that the sum is “limited” and demand is likely to outstrip the available funding, with potential Welsh Government funding only available for covering training costs - not salaries.

Despite this, the report suggests that the new scheme will help the Welsh Government, as well as the Cardiff Capital City Region Deal.

“The CCR has developed a range of pan regional work streams/priorities one of which is the development of skills, training and apprenticeships to increase employment levels in the region,” says the report.

“The Welsh Government’s Guide for Local Authorities on Apprenticeships in Wales encourages local authority apprenticeships.

“But it must be recognised that it will largely be the local authority itself that will determine its own apprenticeship needs and requirements.”

Service areas within the council would have to apply for apprentices by submitting business cases to a proposed Apprenticeship Panel headed by council chiefs.

Cabinet members will meet to discuss the funding, and the formation of an apprenticeship panel, on Wednesday, July 25.