Thatching firm “frustrated” by apprentice funding

A Wiltshire-based thatching company has expressed frustration that it has been unable to secure a government grant for an apprentice.

Adam Nash runs his own thatching business and is a member of the National Society of Master Thatchers. To expand the business he employed an apprentice and enquired about the government’s funding scheme.

The National Apprenticeship Service did not recognise thatching as a profession eligible for a grant and according to the helpline service the apprentice Nash had hired, a forty-year old father of two, was too old to meet government funding guidelines.

Once you explain it [thatching] is not the same as roofing, it fails to register on their computer screens,” Nash explained.

I’m told he’s too old, and that the £1,500 grant available to employers for help to take on apprentices is only for apprentices who are 16-24.”

It is most frustrating because it is hyped so much, it’s this flagship scheme but the reality is very different. Thatching needs apprentices,” he added.

“Maybe someone in Government could explain why thatching is not recognised and why age is a limit to learning a new craft and contributing to the economy.

One of the problems with thatching is that master thatchers are often reluctant to take on apprentices because it takes a good 18 months before that apprentice is trained enough to give something back to the business.”

If Nash secured the government grant, he believes “it would buy tools for the apprentice, or help with his petrol costs as he’s on minimum wage.”

He concluded that the process of securing financial help for an apprentice was “frustrating”.