Small firms demand government support to create apprenticeships

By Daniel Hunter

Small businesses are unsatisfied with the level of government support for creating apprenticeships, research has found.

In a survey conducted by business north west, some 43 per cent of businesses said they want more financial incentives from the government to create apprenticeships. Only 10 per cent of businesses expressed satisfaction with the amount of support they currently receive.

75 per cent of businesses agreed that economic uncertainty was the main barrier to job creation, which could be the reason why just under 40 per cent have said creating apprenticeships was not a priority for them this year. Unemployment in the UK reached 2.68 million this month, with youth unemployment hitting 1.04 million, showing a real lack of opportunities available for young people.

Willmott Dixon Partnerships, the repairs and maintenance specialist, launched its Opening Doors programme to meet the huge interest for work experience placements from young people keen for a route into construction.

“Many companies have excellent apprenticeship records: we employ over 60 at Willmott Dixon, but the recent recession has seen programmes cut,” Mick Williams, Managing Director of Willmott Dixon Partnerships, said.

“The biggest message is that we cannot treat training of trade skills as a light switch to turn on and off; it creates jobs, leaves a legacy and will help you win work.”

Matt Benyon, Managing Director of easyFairs UK & Ireland, which runs business north west, added: “Apprenticeships offer a great opportunity for young people, small businesses and can help boost the economy. With youth unemployment at its highest in 20 years, more needs to be done to create these vital roles.”

“The Government has in the past indicated that small businesses will play a key role in boosting the economy and it’s encouraging that even in tough economic times, SMEs still want to offer apprenticeships. Without the necessary support systems many small businesses won’t be able to reap the rewards that others experience from taking on apprentices.”

Paul Champion

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