Apprentices and exports need Budget help

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Manufacturers from the Sheffield City Region are urging Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne to use today’s Budget to introduce radical policies to boost apprenticeships, exports and entrepreneurialism.

They want to see new incentives to encourage companies to take on more apprentices, simplify the process and offer tax incentives to encourage young people to train for industry.

And they are calling for a rethink on export grants which some say currently fail to assist companies that are doing well and those seeking a foothold in new export markets.

Martin McKervey, partner Nabarro, one of the sponsors of the Global Manufacturing Festival, which opens in Sheffield today, summed up feelings.

“Many manufacturers feel frustrated not to be heard by those who make decisions that directly affect their businesses,” said Mr McKervey.

“Key issues such as apprenticeships, grants and tax remain major bones of contention and it is up to everyone working in and alongside manufacturing to get this across.”

Kevin Parkin, who led the team that rescued Darnall-based heavy engineer DavyMarkham, wants the Chancellor to waive income tax for apprentices earning under £20,000 and introduce tax incentives for companies sponsoring university students.

Chris Hudson, of cutlery and giftware manufacturer Chimo Holdings, says tax deductions in the Budget could boost apprenticeships.

Simon Eastwood, managing director of expanding crane and access equipment specialist SCX Group adds: “We take on just two apprentices each year but would increase that to four should sufficient funding be available.”

Mr Eastwood also wants wider financial incentives. “We have invested £2 million in the company over the last 12 months with no help whatsoever from the Government except for a small amount of capital allowance,” he says.

Local manufacturers are widely critical of the lack of manufacturing expertise in the Cabinet.