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Supporting apprentices in small businesses

Thanks to Liberal Democrats in the Coalition Government, apprenticeships have reached record highs in the academic year 2010/11. More than 440,000 learners started an apprenticeship last year, which is an increase of 50% compared to the year before.

With 450 apprentices, Kingston has seen an 86% increase on last year’s figures. Apprenticeships give people the skills and experience needed to succeed on the job market and create the skills necessary in the workforce for sustainable growth.

Liberal Democrats have long called for a significant increase in apprenticeships and Lib Dem Business Secretary, Vince Cable, has made this a priority.

To support more employers, especially small businesses, to take on apprentices, the Coalition Government this week announced a number of measures, including:

• Offering employers with up to 50 employees an incentive payment of £1,500 to take on apprentices aged 16-24. This will encourage small employers to take on up to 20,000 apprentices.
• Streamlining processes so that it takes just a month for an employer to advertise for an apprentice.
• Ensuring that the National Apprenticeship Service better supports the needs of small employers – through more effectively targeted advice and guidance and helping training providers work more effectively with local SMEs.

Commenting, New Malden Councillor Simon James who has special Executive responsibility for economic development said:

“Small businesses form the backbone of our economy and the announcements by Liberal Democrat Business Secretary, Vince Cable, are very welcome. Liberal Democrats are determined to tackle youth unemployment and apprenticeships give people the skills and experience needed to succeed on the job market and create the skills necessary in the workforce for sustainable growth.”

Business Secretary, Vince 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 that investment is targeted where impact is greatest, delivering the specific skills businesses need to drive growth. 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."

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