Responding to today’s Budget announcement of an £190m boost for apprenticeships , Chris Jones, Chief Executive, City & Guilds Group said:
“This Government’s investment in apprenticeships is encouraging – they are a great way of helping people start out in their careers, and important in tackling youth unemployment.
“But after months of changes, we desperately need stability. We know businesses can benefit from taking on apprentices, particularly as they fight to grow in tough markets and struggle to fill skills gaps, but our concern is that some of the changes, such as the ability to recover subsidies through PAYE, will add too much of a burden to any business delivering apprenticeships, regardless of size.
“This Government’s commitment to apprenticeships is a step in the right direction. Now we have to make the most of it and develop a strong, stable system that meets the needs of young people, employers, and our economy.”
Beth Farhat, regional secretary of the Northern TUC said: “Currently the AGE 16 to 24 Grant for Employers aims to support businesses, who would not otherwise be in a position to do so, to recruit individuals aged 16 to 24 into employment though the Apprenticeship programme. It is not clear how it is to be extended I welcome incentives to create more apprenticeships for young people.
"For too long apprenticeships have not been given the recognition they deserve. They are a valuable route to employment for young people and they are just as credible a way to employment as further education or university. They do, however, have to be high quality and pay at least the living wage if they are to be of proper use to young people.”
Mike Odysseas, Managing Director of North East telecommunications firm Odyssey Systems, said: “Expanding the apprenticeship grants to smaller businesses, like my own, is vital both to industry and to young people. Our business is always on the lookout for new and talented apprentice engineers and this will help companies to invest in people to bring further skills and resilience to the UK’s workforce. Even more importantly, it will incentivise companies to train thousands of young people and help them get their first foot on the career ladder, securing bright futures for themselves as part of the UK’s modern and dynamic economy.”
Steve Grant, Managing Director of the TTE Technical Training Group, said:
“It’s a positive move by the Chancellor to extend grants for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, which will enable the creation of 100,000 more apprenticeships. However, I would like to see those grants targeted at specific industries such as engineering and manufacturing, sectors which were a focus of Mr Osborne’s speech and add value to the UK economy and keep Britain competitive in the global market.
“This would also help to address youth unemployment, particularly in areas like Teesside where young people are desperate to secure apprenticeship places, particularly in engineering disciplines, and employers need an incentive, like these grants, to take them on.
“SMEs form a key element of industry supply chains and investing in skills has to be a priority if they are to continue to supply the products, services and technologies that support these sectors. Apprenticeships are an ideal solution to address skills shortages and I hope the support that the Government is making available will have an impact on these important industries.”