Jewellery boss to head up employer review of apprentices

Social entrepreneur and jeweller Jason Holt has been appointed by the government to head up an employer-led review of what can be done to boost apprenticeship take-up among SMEs.

Holt, who runs the not-for-profit training academy Holts Academy of Jewellery, as well as his own jewellery business in London’s Hatton Garden, will be tasked with talking to a range of stakeholders on how to improve the marketing of the apprenticeships programme, and how to cut red tape to further speed up and simplify the process of taking on and training apprentices.

Skills minister John Hayes said: “I am delighted Mr Holt has agreed to lead this review. His experience, both as a businessman and through running a training academy, gives him invaluable insight into the needs of both small businesses and apprentices.

“I want to ensure that small businesses can enjoy the multitude of benefits that apprentices can offer a company – including improved productivity and the chance to build a better-skilled and dedicated workforce. This review will play a vital role in achieving that aim.”

Jason Holt added: “I am delighted to have been asked by Ministers to lead this Review. It is vital that we make the apprenticeship route as accessible as possible for SMEs.

“As the owner of several such companies, including an Academy, I hope that I can use my experience to add value and make a positive and practical contribution to something so fundamental in the growth of business.”

The review aims to build on government initiatives already underway to make the apprenticeships system more responsive to SME needs. These include reducing the time taken to advertise an apprenticeship vacancy to within one month of deciding to take on an apprentice; removing SFA health and safety requirements on providers that go beyond regulatory requirements; and new employer incentive payments of £1,500 to support up to 40,000 additional places for young people (16-24), where these are new jobs with smaller employers.

Holt will present his report to ministers in May this year.

Paul Champion
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