Small businesses get behind National Apprenticeship Week » SMEInsider

Small businesses get behind National Apprenticeship Week

Next week will be the ninth annual National Apprenticeship Week which takes place from 14-18 March 2016, with hundreds of events expected to take place across England.

Small businesses across the country will be helping to celebrate the week, along with the many apprentices working in their companies.

Mike Cherry, Policy Director for the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “High quality apprenticeships are vital to the future of British business, and they are a fantastic way to enable people to gain the skills they need to succeed.

“We hope this year’s National Apprentice Week will lead to more businesses considering taking on an apprentice, and more young people seeking apprenticeships. The National Apprenticeship Service has lots of good advice for firms thinking of doing so and we encourage small business owners to take a look. We know that if a business has a positive experience when taking on their first apprentice, they are much more likely to take on another in the future.”

In December, the Government published its 2020 vision for apprenticeships in England. FSB backed the plan as it gave businesses a clear idea of what Ministers are trying to achieve and how they plan to get there.

The 2020 vision made clear the intention to extend the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE). It currently provides £1,500 of funding for small businesses to support each of their first five apprentices aged 16-24 working towards apprenticeship frameworks, until the end of the 2016/17 academic year.

Many business owners worry about the impact of apprentices on the business. The additional financial support provided by the AGE Grant offers a way of easing those concerns and incentivising small employers to take on an apprentice.

Cherry continued: “There’s been a great deal of change surrounding the rules and funding framework of apprenticeships in the past year. While we have supported many of these changes, the Government needs to make sure businesses are clear on their responsibilities when taking on an apprentice and how the funding of apprenticeship training will work in the future.

“While the forthcoming Apprenticeship Levy is unlikely to apply to many of our members, Government must ensure that a simple, user-friendly funding and payment system is in place for smaller firms as well. What we don’t want is a situation where businesses that could take on an apprentice are put off due to the uncertainty of what they will need to do or because they find the process too complicated.”