Hunts small firms ready for apprentices

IF the Government were to cut out the red tape, small businesses would gladly take on apprentices, Huntingdonshire business leaders said this week. The Federation of Small Businesses, which last week urged Ministers to divert some of the cash earmarked fo

IF the Government were to cut out the red tape, small businesses would gladly take on apprentices, Huntingdonshire business leaders said this week.

The Federation of Small Businesses, which last week urged Ministers to divert some of the cash earmarked for apprenticeships towards small companies, has called for higher wages for apprentices, a scheme to link up apprentices with firms and job offers, for funds for training to be redirected to the very smallest firms, and for a financial incentive for firms that take on an apprentice.

Micro firms particularly struggle with the administrative burden of setting up apprenticeships, organising training and securing financial support - yet they are a central plank to tackling youth unemployment, said Huntingdonshire chairman Malcolm Lyons.

"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 Lyons said.


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"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 give employers a higher chance 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.

"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. 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."

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The FSB wants a minimum apprentice wage of �123, against the current �95, along with an awareness campaign about the benefits of apprenticeships and financial support for those small firms that take on apprentices.

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