February 10, 2012
Small businesses are to be given a £1,500 ‘incentive payment’ to take on their first apprentice aged 16-24 as part of a raft of new financial measures to encourage businesses to recruit and train new staff, writes Simon Wicks.
The new funding is the latest stage in the Government drive to boost the economy by raising the number and quality of apprenticeships. Figures released at the end of January showed the number of apprenticeships started in England reached a record high of 457,200 in 2010/11 – up by 63.5 per cent increase on the previous year.
The package of measures announced this week offers more than £260 million of grants in three areas:
“Our mission is to put practical training on a level playing field with academic study, creating a highly skilled, creative workforce that can take on the best in the world,” said skills minister John Hayes as he announced the funding this week.
Business groups welcomed the initiatives, but urged the Government to make life easier for small firms by giving more information about apprenticeships, offering them greater flexibility in delivering training, reducing red tape and working with small employers to address local skills requirements.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said that NAS had simplified its guidance and appointed a dedicated team to support small firms.
Jane Bennett, head of campaigns for the Forum of Private Business said: “While we welcome apprenticeship subsidies for those that go through the National Apprenticeship Service, we feel they should be extended to those who carry out in-house training, either through tax or subsidies.”