The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is calling for more government support to help get young people into apprenticeships.
Costs of taking on an apprentice can be off-putting for smaller businesses, the FSB claims. With this in mind, it has launched a four-point plan to encourage more firms to get involved, ahead of a government meeting tomorrow to discuss the employment of young people.
These are: raising the minimum wage for all apprentices from £95 to £123 a week; setting up a national Group Apprenticeship Programme (GAP) that will take on the administrative burden for smaller firms; redirecting funds from the government’s skills budget so smaller firms that do not know it exists can access it; and finally, launching an awareness campaign about the benefits and financial support available to firms that take on an apprentice.
John Wright, FSB national chairman, said: “The majority of small firms would like to take on an apprentice but are put off by the administration involved, and the lack of financial support. The Government must make it easier for the smallest firms to create apprenticeships and ensure they are able to get the funding they need to train and support an apprentice.
“In a survey of our members, 82 per cent said they would be in favour of an increase in the minimum wage for apprentices, which would give them more of an incentive to complete the traineeship and offer employers the greater likelihood of serious applicants for the position. Small businesses are eager to do their bit and to take on new employees, but the Government must step up and help them to tackle the problem of unemployment.”
Recent figures from The Data Service revealed that the number of people joining apprenticeship schemes in the nine months to 30 April 2009 rose by 15 per cent to 196,000 (CRN, 27 July).
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