The CBI has called on the government to provide extra subsidies to help apprenticeship schemes.
The employers’ group wants to see a portion of the government’s £500 million recruitment subsidy fund re-directed towards supporting new apprenticeships. Under the CBI scheme, some £125 million would go towards supporting an additional 50,000 apprentices.
Employers would receive £2,500 in order to supplement the cost of taking on each extra apprentice.
Benefits of apprenticeships
As well as helping to combat unemployment amongst young people, there are good business reasons for considering employing an apprentice.
There is a well-documented shortage of skilled labour in the UK, which can make recruitment difficult. It may make more sense to take on someone young or under-skilled and to train them in the skills your business needs.
The real advantage of an apprenticeship is that it allows an employer to do just this while at the same time providing them with administrative help, financial support and, most importantly of all, a disciplined, measured approach to training.
Apprenticeships are as suited to small as they are to large businesses. Most apprentices are young people, but courses are open to older workers.
Earn and learn
The way that apprentices learn their trade is through a combination of both on-the-job experience and externally structured training. Not only does an apprentice get to understand the needs of the firm, the external training system means they can also bring new ideas to their work and to the business.
There are plans to make apprenticeships integral to UK business. Some 500,000 places should be available within the next decade. Even by 2013, it is hoped to have an extra 90,000 apprenticeships open to 16 to 18 year olds.
At the moment, there are 180 apprenticeship courses, ranging from construction to IT, from catering to manufacture. Recruits and employers have a choice of two types of apprenticeship: a standard course that lasts a year and leads to a level 2 NVQ and a two-year course that leads to a level 3 NVQ.
For the employer’s part, they are required to organise the training and manage the apprentice while they are at work. Apprentices must be paid a wage of no less than £95 a week, although the UK average is £170, and given time off work to study (normally a day a week).
In return, the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) will foot the bill for the whole cost of training 16 to 18 year olds and half the cost of training someone over the age of 18. Additionally, grants from the LSC can help to offset the cost of employing an apprentice.
There is an online service that matches employer vacancies with people seeking employment as apprentices in a variety of sectors and areas of the country.
Any business interested in taking on an employee, and making good the skills gaps they may be experiencing, can visit the LSC apprenticeship website at http://www.lsc.gov.uk/Vacancies/Apprenticeship/