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Government to act on apprenticeship review

The Government has pledged to revamp the apprenticeship system and make it more beneficial to SMEs following recommendations in a review published last week.

The Government hopes to make the system responsive to SME needs and to help them take on apprentices after the Holt review found that a 'lack of awareness, insufficient SME empowerment and poor processes' in the current system rendered it inaccessible to smaller firms.

Its main recommendations were to hand more power over to SMEs from apprenticeship training providers, to raise awareness of the benefits of apprenticeships and to simplify the process.

The Government in response announced that the main Apprenticeship Grant for Employers is to be simplified and extended, allowing medium sized firms who exceed the 250 employee threshold to claim the grant even if they employ up to 1,000 staff. They will also be allowed to claim grants to support up to ten new apprentices.

Last week SMEs also spoke of the lack of work skills from some school leavers, such as lack of basic literacy and numeracy.

Holt described the current programme as 'misunderstood', with numerous organisations offering 'conflicting advice.'

Elsewhere it found that businesses were having to invest additional time and money into getting their apprentices up to speed, potentially putting them off taking on other young apprentices.

Social entrepreneur Jason Holt was asked to conduct the report into the system by the secretaries of state for education and business, innovation and skills in February this year.
Although SMES make up 99 per cent of businesses within the UK, the portion of take up of apprenticeships from this group is fewer than 10 per cent.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said that many SMEs were 'missing out on an effective way of growing and up-skilling their businesses.'

The Government is to also work with lawyers and accountants in an effort to promote apprenticeships to their SMEs customers.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) both welcomed the recommendations and the Government response.

Dr Adam Marshall, director of policy at the BCC said: "Businesses want to support young people's transition from education to work, and there must be a greater focus from ministers on delivering a skills system that is responsive to the needs of the economy."