Call for support to help with apprentices

EVEN during the recession companies are being urged not to forget young people, and still offer them apprenticeships. The appeal for businesses to help young people get into work and learn skilled jobs comes from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) w

EVEN during the recession companies are being urged not to forget young people, and still offer them apprenticeships.

The appeal for businesses to help young people get into work and learn skilled jobs comes from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) whose North and East Herts chairman Robin Pyke says: "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."

Mr Pyke added: "In a survey of our members, 82 per cent said they would be in favour of an increase in the minimum wage for apprentices (the FSB want it to rise from �95 to �123 a week), which would give them more of an incentive to complete the traineeship and give employers a higher chance of serious applicants for their position.

"Small businesses are eager to do their bit and to take on new employees, but the Government must step up and help them tackle the problem of unemployment. The Government must make it easier for the smallest firms to create apprenticeships and should put in place a Group Apprenticeship Programme to bring employers and apprentices together.


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"Funds from the Government's Train to Gain scheme in England must also be ring-fenced for the smallest firms to ensure they are able to get the funding they need to train and support an apprentice."

The FSB has now come up with a series of proposals which it wants the Government to support in the hope more companies will embrace an apprenticeship programme.

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The FSB wants higher wages for apprentices; schemes to link apprentices with firms and job offers; funds for training to be redirected to the very smallest firms and a financial incentive for firms to take on an apprentice.

Among the other proposals being put to the Government by the FSB are:

l Raise the minimum wage for apprentices from �95 to �123 a week to increase the incentive to complete an apprenticeship.

l A national Group Apprenticeship Programme (GAP) - a job service to link up potential apprentices with companies looking for a trainee. The GAP would act as a safety net for apprentices by finding them a job and placing them in employment and would take on the administrative burden for small firms including financial and health safety risk.

l Funds from the Government's skills budget in England redirected to, and ring-fenced, for the hardest to reach small businesses that do not currently benefit from, or even know, the funding exists.

l An awareness campaign about the benefits of apprenticeships and financial support for small firms that take on apprentices.

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