Apprenticeship improvements set out by Tories welcomed by business groups

Conservative plans to cut red tape and help more small firms to offer apprenticeships have been welcomed by business groups.

Tory party leader David Cameron yesterday launched Building Skills, Transforming Lives, a Green Paper setting out plans to expand the provision of real apprenticeships.

The paper said £775m would be set aside to support apprentices of all ages, and included a scheme that would offer employers £2,000 to take on and train apprentices. The party’s proposals would also put an end to the bureaucracy that shackles further education colleges, according to the paper.

Its publication followed the government’s draft Apprenticeship Bill, launched last week, which also aimed to encourage employers to offer more apprenticeships. Currently, only one in 20 businesses provide them.

CBI director of skills and education Susan Anderson said she welcomed Cameron’s latest proposals to slash bureaucracy in the system.

“The business world strongly supports these [Conservative] proposals to cut red tape, help more small firms get involved, and provide high-quality advice to young people by funding a careers adviser in every school and college.”

However, Anderson warned the extra funding proposals could cause other training routes to suffer, as primarily public funds would be diverted from the Train to Gain programme.

Martin Temple, chairman of manufacturing body EEF, said: “Today’s proposals to reduce the funding disparity between apprentices for young people and adults and the focus on increasing the number of advanced apprenticeships could support future growth.”

Apprenticeships have come increasingly into focus since the 2006 Leitch Review, which warned the UK must up its game to reduce the skills shortage.

The Conservative Green Paper sets out proposals to:

  • Expand the provision of real apprenticeships, with £775m set aside to support apprentices of all ages
  • Improve community learning, with a £100m NEETs (not in education, employment or training) fund to help young people not in education, employment or training
  • Put an end to the bureaucracy that shackles further education colleges
  • Increase funding for careers advice services.

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