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Five-step plan to boost apprenticeships

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Monday will mark the start of National Apprenticeship Week, which aims to raise the profile of apprenticeships across the UK.

Organised by the National Apprenticeship Service, National Apprenticeship Week hopes to open employers’ eyes to apprenticeships.

Yet, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), not enough is done to encourage apprenticeships, and the government should “lift the barriers” to employment.

“Apprenticeships are valued very highly by small businesses, but government must recognise that the burden of employment law and a lack of guidance is stopping small firms from taking apprentices on,” says John Walker, national chairman of the FSB.

“We recognise that at a time of austerity, not all businesses can receive financial incentives to take on an apprentice, and that’s why we are urging the govenrment to ensure that the smallest, micro-businesses still receive funding.”

At the moment, 69 per cent of apprenticeships take place in small businesses that have fewer than 50 employees, but the FSB wants to see this number increase.

Therefore, the FSB is calling on the government to:

  • Incentivise micro-businesses to take on apprentices through providing allocated funding and financial incentives – 37 per cent said this would help them take an apprentice on
  • Make small businesses exempt from the “Time to Train” legislation, due to come into force in April 2011, to encourage firms to take on more staff and show the UK is open for business
  • Give greater nationwide promotion of the Apprenticeship Training Agencies to help small businesses overcome the bureaucracy and red tape of taking on an employee
  • Enable small firms to access apprentices through the supply chain if the business is trying to access a public sector contract
  • Recognise that Group Training Associations provide an effective route for small employers to train apprentices and staff to their own requirements, and to ensure that Local Enterprise Partnerships work with these partners

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