Jason Holt takes charge of employer-led review into SMEs and apprenticeships

Social entrepreneur and jeweller Jason Holt is to head-up an employer-led review into apprenticeships.

Mr Holt, CEO of Holts Group of Companies, will speak to the sector about what can be done to encourage small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to hire an apprentice.

Skills minister John Hayes announced the appointment earlier today. He said: “I am delighted Mr Holt has agreed to lead this review.

“His experience, both as a business man and through running a training academy, gives him invaluable insight into the needs of both small businesses and apprentices.”

Mr Holt runs Holts Lapidary, a jewellery manufacturer and retailer, Holts Academy, a training provider for the jewellery industry and Jewellery Innovations, a social enterprise which helps apprentices work in UK manufacturing, among others.

Mr Holt said:”I am delighted to have been asked by Ministers to lead this Review.

“It is vital that we make the apprenticeship route as accessible as possible for SMEs.

“As the owner of several such companies, including an Academy, I hope that I can use my experience to add value and make a positive and practical contribution to something so fundamental in the growth of business.”

The review is meant to examine and build on the following government initiatives:

· Reducing the time taken to advertise an apprenticeship vacancy to within one month of deciding to take on an apprentice.

· Removing SFA health and safety requirements on providers that go beyond regulatory requirements.

· Allowing micro companies to add up to two broader business skills units to apprenticeships (recognising the wider skills range that is often required in such companies).

· Simplifying guidance for SMEs and establishing a dedicated team at the National Apprenticeship Service.

· New employer incentive payments of £1,500 to support up to 40,000 additional places for young people (16-24), where these are new jobs with smaller employers.

Mr Hayes added: “I want to ensure that small businesses can enjoy the multitude of benefits that apprentices can offer a company – including improved productivity and the chance to build a better-skilled and dedicated workforce.

“This review will play a vital role in achieving that aim.”

Mr Holt will present his report to Ministers in May 2012.