The UK government has announced an extension of its Apprenticeship Grant for Employers of 16-24 year olds (AGE 16-24), meaning that small and medium sized employers now have until March 2014 to apply for a £1,500 grant.

The grant is intended to help businesses with less than 1,000 employees take on an apprentice, and could potentially give start-ups in London's Tech City an incentive to make links with local schools and give young people a leg up into the world of work.

Initially only on offer during the 2012/13 financial year, the funding has been extended following a positive response from employers. It has also been increased, so eligible employers can claim the grant for up to ten apprentices.

“I know it can be a big decision for busy, small companies to take on an apprentice. Employers may be concerned about the time recruitment and training will take, and anxious about how it will work,” said Business Secretary Vince Cable.

“The £1,500 grant is a token to acknowledge this and thank employers. I hope many more people will take us up on our cash incentive to grow their business, and train up the workforce of the future.”

Apprenticeship schemes also form a part of the government's recently announced £50 million project to regenerate Old Street roundabout and turn it into “Europe’s largest indoor civic space” for start-ups and entrepreneurs.

In partnership with apprenticeship providers such as Renaisi and Hackney Community College, the centre will aim to help 1,000 young people into skilled employment per year.

“Apprenticeships come with a guarantee of quality, giving young people a job with training, and are proven to deliver a significant return on investment, so this really is a win-win initiative for employers,” said David Way, chief executive of the National Apprenticeship Service.

“There has never been a better time to recruit an apprentice, so I hope more organisations will look at how they can benefit from this grant over the coming 12 months and reap the rewards of a more motivated, skilled and qualified workforce.”