Apprenticeships are as important for adult workers as young people and for small as well as large companies, a government review has said.
Jason Holt’s new report says apprenticeships should be more accessible to SMEs.
Mr Holt, a jeweller and social entrepreneur, was commissioned by the Education and Business Secretaries to advise them on what more could be done to help SMEs take on apprentices.
Reporting back today, Mr Holt said there is a lack of awareness among small businesses about the benefits of taking on apprentices and how to recruit and train them.
Mr Holt said:
“Whilst apprenticeships offer undoubted growth opportunities for businesses, not enough SMEs are taking advantage. This is because they have an outdated view of apprenticeships, are often in the dark, and frequently do not receive the specific training provision their apprentices need. My recommendations are intended to address these issues with Government, employers and providers all playing a part.”
The Association of Employment and Learning Providers(AELP), whose members provide 70% of apprenticeships in England, welcomed the report and said most SMEs are signed up to apprentice programmes after being approached by training providers.
AELPchief executive Graham Hoyle said:
“The penetration of the SME market still has a long way to go as the data in Jason Holt’s welcome review indicates.
“Nevertheless the government, its agencies and training providers have made good progress over the last two years in engaging more employers of all sizes in the apprenticeship programme.
“I would expect that the current reforms to drive up quality further will encourage more small businesses to consider offering apprenticeships and therefore we should be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater in terms of a possible rebalancing of the relationship between the employer and the provider.
“As Jason Holt himself acknowledges, it is training providers who have been largely responsible for the successful ‘selling’ of apprenticeships to SMEs so far.”
Mr Hoyle welcomed Mr Holt’s view that in an ideal world all companies, irrespective of their size or sector, would be constantly looking to upskill their existing workforce through apprenticeships in addition to using the programme to bring in new talent to train up.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said:
“Only a small minority of SMEs currently employ apprentices. Many of the rest 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 these businesses to take on an apprentice”.
New measures announced today will see the Government:
• Work with the people that SMEs look to for advice, including lawyers and accountants, to promote apprenticeships to their SME customers
• Enable SMEs to get their apprentices the training they need, by providing better information on availability and investigating how to give them a greater say in developing the skills they need
• Improve the performance of providers of training to SMEs by agreeing standards and the consequences of not meeting them
• Improve the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers by making it simpler and more accessible to more employers.