New apprentice incentive for smaller businesses

Smaller businesses are to be given cash incentives to take on apprentices under new plans announced by Business Secretary Vince Cable.

As part of the government’s plan for growth, Mr Cable has announced action to make it easier for companies to take on apprentices.

He told businesses in London today the government would slash the red tape and “guarantee” quality of apprenticeships.

Mr Cable outlined four measures, including the offer of up to £1,500 to employers with less than 50 employees if they take on a young apprentice aged 16 to 24. It will support up to 20,000 new apprenticeships in 2012/13.

He also said processes will be simplified to make it quicker for employers to take on an apprentice, including streamlining health and safety requirements .

The third measure is a “renewed focus on targeting the programme where apprenticeships deliver greatest value”.

Apprenticeship providers, Mr Cable announced, will also be required to offer training in English and maths up to the standard of a good GCSE (level 2) for all  apprenticeships.

Mr Cable said: “The apprenticeships programme is a success story, with record numbers of learners starting an apprenticeship this year.

“But I have listened to employers, and will go further to ensure investment is targeted where impact is greatest, delivering the specific skills businesses need to drive growth.”

He added: “Apprenticeships are proven to boost the life chances of young people, and are a sound investment in our future competitiveness.

“So when times are tough, it’s right that we provide additional support to help the smallest firms meet training costs.

“We’ll cut no corners on quality. Apprenticeships will remain the gold standard for excellence in vocational training – but where red tape serves no purpose, we’ll strip it away.”

FE minister John Hayes said: “By continuing to drive up standards and reaching out to small businesses, we’ll create a culture in which values, drives and rewards vocational excellence and fuels economic and social progress.”