This month, the Government announced a radical shake up in the funding of apprenticeships, which puts employers firmly in the driving seat.The Government is currently consulting on funding reforms, which will give employers the freedom and power to shape this vital training to meet the needs of the apprentices and businesses. Realising the importance of involving businesses in the major training decisions surrounding apprenticeships is a huge step in the right direction, and as Vince Cable remarked, employers are the people best placed to judge what training is worth investing in. Britain?s apprentices are one of the country?s most valuable resources, and the National Audit Office found that every ?1 spent on apprenticeships generates approximately ?18 for the economy. It is great to see that the Government is bringing clarity to the funding of apprenticeships, and it?s important that it is clearly thought through and not overly-complicated with administration that deters young people and businesses. Higher Apprenticeships, for instance, are still relatively new, so the less complex they are for businesses, the more employers will want a stake in them and their development, which will ultimately contribute to their success. We have almost a million 16-24 year-olds out of work and as a nation, we have a duty to make sure that we are doing all we can to successfully equip our future workforce, and apprenticeships represent a golden opportunity for young people to win their dream job. Only 15 per cent of UK employers offer apprenticeships, and I hope that by involving businesses directly in their quality assurance, it will drive the number of apprentices across the UK. Apprenticeships have a vital role to play in the education and preparation of our future workforce, the growth and innovation of our businesses, and ultimately, the economic growth of our country. I am glad to see that apprenticeships are at the forefront of the Government?s agenda; education providers know what they are doing and will have a role to play in these reforms, and what is most important putting the interests of the learners and the employers first. Alice Barnard is the chief executive of the Peter Jones Foundation.
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