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Small firms to receive more help with apprenticeships

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The government has launched a new scheme to help small businesses take on more apprentices.

Under the scheme, on which £7 million is being spent, a number of new Apprenticeship Training Associations (ATAs) will be set up.

The ATAs will act as recruitment agencies, placing apprentices with suitable firms. If for any reason, the firm cannot continue with the apprenticeship, then the apprentice returns to the ATA to await another placement.

The funding is also to be used to develop Group Training Associations (GTAs) which help small businesses share expertise with other employers and create their own dedicated training.

It is estimated that the programme will establish over 14,000 apprenticeship places for 16 to 18-year-olds during the next three years.

The apprenticeships will be offered in industries vital for the country’s economic growth, including the environment, engineering, manufacturing, logistics and business administration.

Announcing the scheme, Kevin Brennan, the Apprentices Minister, said: “We want to give SMEs the extra support and resources they need to take on more apprentices. These innovative models mean small businesses, who may not previously have felt able to offer apprenticeships, can now get on board and back young Britain.”

The Minister added: “The announcement means greater flexibility for small businesses and greater security for apprentices.”

Nigel Fletcher, education and skills adviser for the EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said: “Manufacturers will welcome this additional support to Group Training Associations but there are wider uncertainties about future funding for training.

“A focus on more apprenticeships for 16-18-year-olds is welcome but only part of the picture. Apprenticeships for adults will also play an important role in re-skilling for the recovery.”