New measures to make it easier for small businesses to recruit apprentices and drive improved standards of training have been welcomed by Semta.
The Government has said it will seek to increase awareness among small and medium enterprises (SMEs) of the benefits of apprenticeships, and make support for small businesses taking on apprentices simpler and more accessible, thanks to a report from jeweller and social entrepreneur Jason Holt.
The measures 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 access the training they need for their apprentices more easily through better information and support
- Improve the performance of providers of training to SMEs by agreeing standards and the consequences of not meeting them
- Widen the availability of the Apprenticeship AGE Grant making it more accessible and simpler for employers
Commenting on the publication of the Holt Review Lynn Tomkins, Semta’s UK operations director, said: “Manufacturing employers will welcome these recommendations, many of which build on the work that Semta is already driving through the Semta Apprenticeship Service and its Regional Councils.
"The manufacturing industry has a long and proud history of investing in apprenticeship programmes but there are still too few SMEs in the supply chain taking them on. Semta is already ahead of target in achieving its ambition to double the number of apprenticeships in the sector at Level 3 and above with a particular focus on SMEs.
“Funding is a particular issue for SMEs but we welcome the relaxing of the Apprenticeship AGE Grant rules which should act as an incentive for SMEs to take on young apprentices.”
The Government said its refinements to the £1,500 AGE Grant would involve delivering it in a single payment, rather than the current two. Employers will be able to claim grants for up to 10 apprentices, and the scheme will be opened to employers who have not hired an apprentice in the past year.
Medium sized employers, who have between 250 and 1,000 employees, will be eligible to claim the grant for apprentices aged 16-24.
Semta research indicates that the manufacturing and engineering industry needs to recruit and train 82,000 engineers, scientists and technicians across the UK by 2016, and 363,000 of the current technical workforce is qualified below world class standards and needs to be skilled up.
Ms Tomkins added: “Semta has a fantastic track record in engaging with employers and promoting apprenticeships. Our service is free and supports the recruitment, mentoring and training of apprentices and graduates - assessing supply chain capability and helping organisations to produce a company training plan.
“We also provide high quality training programmes in line with sector priorities which are leadership and management, technical skills, and productivity and competitiveness.
“We look forward to working with the Government, employers and all relevant agencies to build on this work and the measures proposed in the Holt Review.”