The Government has announced a raft of measures to challenge the “outdated view” of apprenticeships among small businesses to encourage more firms to take on apprentices. Skills minister John Hayes has outlined a number changes designed to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) offer more apprenticeships, including greater access to funding and the introduction of standards for training providers supplying services to SMEs.
Under the new measures, the Government will:
- work with people who provide advice to SMEs, such as lawyers and accountants, to promote apprenticeships to these firms; provide better information and increase availability of training for apprentices and investigate how to give SMEs a greater say in developing appropriate training provision;
- agree standards for the provision of training to SMEs and the consequences of not meeting them; and
- improve the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE) scheme by revising eligibility restrictions, making it simpler to use and expanding access to the funding.
Business secretary Vince Cable said: “Only a small minority of SMEs currently employ apprentices. Many are missing out on an effective way of growing and up-skilling their businesses. “We hope that the measures announced today will make a difference by raising awareness of the benefits of apprenticeships amongst SMEs and making it as easy as possible for businesses to take on an apprentice.”