Government unveils measures to get more SMEs to take on apprentices after report from social entrepreneur Jason Holt

The Government has unveiled a range of measures to promote the benefits of apprenticeships to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) following a report from social entrepreneur Jason Holt.

Mr Holt was commissioned by Business Secretary Vince Cable and Education Secretary Michael Gove to advise them on what more could be done to help small and medium-sized businesses get the most out of taking on apprentices.

After talking to a number of small firms, the expert highlighted a lack of awareness of how to recruit and train apprentices, and a lack of understanding as to what benefits they can bring.

Skills minister John Hayes, who welcomed the findings, outlined new measures to be taken by the Government to help more SMEs recruit apprentices.

It will work with the professionals that advise SMEs, including lawyers and accountants, to encourage them to promote apprenticeships to their clients.

SMEs will also be helped to give apprentices the training they need by receiving better information on availability and being allowed to have a greater say in developing the skills they require.

Measures have also been put in place to improve the performance of providers who train SMEs by setting higher standards and reinforcing the consequences of not meeting them.

Finally, the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers will be made simpler and more accessible to a greater number of employers in a bid to raise awareness.

Mr Cable said: "Only a small minority of SMEs currently employ apprentices. Many of the rest are missing out on an effective way of growing and up-skilling their businesses.

"We hope that the measures announced today will make a difference by raising awareness of the benefits of apprenticeships amongst SMEs and making it as easy as possible for these businesses to take on an apprentice".

Mr Gove also welcomed the findings, saying: "I am very grateful to Jason Holt for the considerable time and effort he has devoted to producing his report. He is certainly right that we need to give employers, and not training providers, the power and freedom to shape their apprenticeships, and make the process as simple as possible for every employer."

Copyright Press Association 2012