TRAINING AND SKILLS
Calls to make it easier for employers to take on young people would seem to have been heeded with the Chancellor announcing a £180 million package to fund 50,000 new apprenticeships over the next three years.
Around 10,000 of the places will be advanced level and higher apprenticeship places, focused on small and medium-sized firms.
George Osborne said the Government will now be delivering 250,000 more apprenticeships over the next four years compared with the previous Labour administration’s plans.
The Government said it wanted to support more places than any previous administration as part of its “strong commitment” to improve the skills of workers.
New grant funding will be offered to firms offering advanced and higher level apprenticeship schemes aimed at addressing skills shortages.
Mr Osborne told MPs one in four firms in Austria, Norway and Germany offered apprenticeships, compared to just one in 10 in England, which he said had to change.
The Chancellor also announced that 100,000 work experience placements will be offered across the UK over the next two years, five times as many as originally planned.
Latest figures showed 974,000 people aged between 16 and 24 are unemployed, the highest figure since records began in 1992.
Craig Robinson, director within KPMG’s public sector advisory practice in Birmingham, said: “This continued commitment from the Government to increase the number of apprenticeships, ensuring that people have the right breadth of skills they need for the workplace, is extremely welcome news.
“It is also particularly encouraging that such a large proportion of the additional numbers – 40,000 of the 50,000 new places that are to be created – will be targeted at those who are currently out of work, as it is clearly this group that is most in need of government support.
“The good news is that it is readily apparent from the progress made since the last Budget that employers are already stepping up to the plate to get involved.
“However, there remains a challenge as to whether enough employers will continue to come forward, particularly given the amount of perceived bureaucracy that they have to go through to get involved.”
Salts Healthcare’s people development Manager, Karen Young said: “Apprenticeships have been the forgotten route to employment for many years, as the last generation followed higher education as their road to the jobs market.
“As a business we feel that an apprenticeship is a major driver of skills, confidence and performance both for an organisation and the individual.
“As a company we have made the decision to invest in apprenticeships - we hope to take on up to ten people from the West Midlands before the end of the year with three joining our engineering department next month.”