SOUTH Craven MP Julian Smith has welcomed a package of reforms which he says will boost apprenticeships across his constituency.

Backed by £60 million of Government funding in 2024-25, the full cost of training apprentices aged up to 21 will be covered for small businesses.

"This will reduce costs and burdens for firms and provide more opportunities for young people to kickstart their careers," says Mr Smith.

"Also, the Government is increasing the amount of funding that large employers paying the apprenticeship levy can pass on to other businesses – from 25 per cent of their unused levy to 50 per cent.

"In the past year we’ve seen 540 young people start apprenticeships across the constituency, giving them opportunities to develop new skills, secure good jobs and start their careers.

"These announcements will build on that progress and see even more young people fulfil their potential, while also helping small businesses make the most of our fantastic local talent.

"Taken together, the measures could create up to 20,000 more apprenticeships."