The key word is already in Apprenticeships.

We need to be doing more to ‘entice’ SMEs and other employers to take on Apprentices and even more importantly, offer real Apprenticeships that are based on ‘real’ jobs.

In our submission to the BIS Inquiry on Apprenticeships we will be emphasising a number of key points.

Firstly we welcome any growth in the numbers of 16 to 18 year old Apprenticeships, particularly in the current climate, but we would like to see as great a focus on the 19 to 24 year olds who are struggling to find employment or training opportunities.

Secondly, we need to see more evidence of recruiting apprentices to ‘real’ jobs. A number of training providers need to show more evidence of job outcomes; it is simply not good enough that in the past some apprentices have been recruited for seasonal work and short employment contracts.

We support the employer ownership agenda; employers need to be taking greater responsibility for investment in training if they want to meet their own skills needs.

However, at the same time, government needs to work harder to push the right messages to employers and to reduce bureaucracy as much as possible to incentivise co-operation.

we believe a rebate on tax or National Insurance would work better than a cash payment.”

There should be a bigger drive and push to convince SMEs of the value and ROI of taking on apprentices but we believe NAS’ Apprenticeship Week will be doing just that and we look forward to the media coverage.

Last but not least there needs to be more clarity on what does and does not constitute a 50 per cent contribution for 19 to 24 year old Apprenticeships as this is being interpreted differently by every provider.

Some financial incentives for employers might help, but in this difficult economic time we believe a rebate on tax or National Insurance would work better than a cash payment.

All in all we feel that NAS was started up with good intentions, but has a stretch to do to improve on quality, position Apprenticeships strongly in the market place and convince employers of the true worth and value of apprentices.

Lynne Sedgmore is Executive Director for the 157 Group