Empowering companies to set apprenticeship standards has been hailed a positive move by the North East’s largest business organisation.
A new type of high-quality apprenticeship is to be introduced in England, with apprentices being awarded different grades according to ability.
The tougher apprenticeships, which were unveiled by Prime Monister David Cameron yesterday, will be offered by 60 firms from next year and will run in parallel with existing apprenticeships.
Last night North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) policy director Ross Smith, said: “Some very promising proposals have come from the Richard Review and I’m pleased to see the Government taking them forward.
“If we are going to have any impact on youth unemployment in the region we need to make sure that smaller to medium-sized firms are able and confident to take on apprentices in larger measures.
“Apprenticeships are going to be a big part of solving our unemployment issues whilst also meeting the skills needs of businesses for the future.”
Commenting on the implementation plan for the Richard Review, Mr Smith said the difficulty lay in getting businesses of all sizes to take up the apprenticeship mantle.
“A ‘one size fits all’ approach will not work,” he said.
“Smaller firms inevitably have different requirements to larger businesses.
“For apprenticeship reform to succeed, businesses of all sizes must be involved in the reform process.
“The mission to increase the take-up of apprentices is a no-brainer but the challenge is how to do that.
“We’ve not been picking people up in large enough numbers and it needs a bigger and more unified effort.
“I don’t accept a defeatest view that jobs have gone and they’re not coming back. But we no longer have the volume of large-scale employers that can take on every apprentice coming out of school. We need to establish the crucial nature of taking on apprentices with smaller companies.
“Pushing students into further education is important, but it’s not always best for the student and it’s not always the best for the economy. I think skills need to be seen as part of the wider solution.”