Apprentice proposals welcomed

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A GOVERNMENT pledge to make apprenticeships more responsive to employers’ needs and make it easier for firms to claim a £1,500 subsidy for taking an apprentice on has been welcomed by the manufacturers organisation, the EEF.

But, EEF regional director Andy Tüscher says he wants to see rapid progress after a lack of previous action.

The pledge came with the publication of the Holt Review, a Government-backed study, led by entrepreneur Jason Holt, which looked at ways of making apprenticeships more accessible to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Jason Holt found that SMEs shied away from taking on apprentices because there was a lack of awareness of the benefits of apprenticeships and they didn’t feel training firms were providing skills that met their needs.

SMEs were also confused by the range of agencies involved in apprenticeships and their responsibilities.

Andy Tüscher said “Manufacturers will today welcome the announcement to relax the criteria attached to the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers, improve the responsiveness of providers and focus on the needs of employers and the skills they require. We should now look to Government for tangible progress in all these areas, which has to date been too slow.

“If the Government is serious about encouraging more young people to undertake apprentices, and more employers to offer apprenticeships, it must address issues such as careers advice, the status of vocational education and the regulatory burden that still prevents many small businesses from taking on apprentices.”