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Cautious welcome for apprenticeships plan

By John Corser | Business Picks | Published:

The boss of one of the Midlands biggest training groups has called on the Government to ensure that Rishi Sunak’s job creation and retention schemes are able to work together seamlessly.

Chris Luty, chief executive of BCTG

Chris Luty, chief executive of Oldbury-based BCTG Group, said the Chancellor’s announcements were very positive but they needed to be aligned for maximum impact.

“The Kickstarter Scheme and the focus on traineeships are very encouraging but we need to ensure that young workers can progress from traineeships into apprenticeships so that at the end of six months they are fully employed and not simply back to square one.”

He welcomed the Chancellor’s £2 billion scheme to create thousands of jobs for young people but cautioned that this needed to lead to long term employment if it was to be judged successful in the longer term.

“It is essential that when we see the details of how these schemes will work next week, they are able to dovetail to the ultimate benefit of the young trainee or worker,” he said.

The Chancellor announced a radical package of new measures to support employment, including a Job Retention Bonus to help firms keep furloughed workers – a one-off bonus of £1,000 for each employee still employed on January 31.

The new £2 billion Kickstart Scheme targets those aged 16-24 who are claiming Universal Credit and are at most risk of long term unemployment. Funding will cover 100 per cent of the National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week for each six month job placement. Employers will have the option to top up wages.

Employment support schemes, training and apprenticeships to help people looking for employment will see a total of £1.6bn invested.

For each new apprentice under 25 that businesses employ, they will receive £2,000. This will be on top of the existing £1,000 the Government provides for new 16 to 18-year-old apprentices and those under 25 with an education, health and care plan.

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An investment of £111 million is intended to triple the scale of traineeships in 2020-21 with the aim of providing young people with access to high quality training.

Other measures include £17m to triple the number of sector-based work academy placements in 2020-21, and nearly £900m to double the number of work coaches to 27,000. In addition, a further £32m will be invested in the National Careers Service to assist over 250,000 young people.

Mr Luty said: “These are staggering investment figures, but the devil is always in the detail and we await sight of how these schemes will operate, both individually and together in the coming week.”

Bekki Phillips, managing director of Aldridge-based In-Comm Training, said that any funding that goes directly to companies to encourage them to take on apprenticeships was welcome, but In-Comm needed to see the full details to see what a difference this will make to businesses and their recruitment intentions.

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“Firms are already receiving a £1,000 grant to take on 16 to 18-year-old apprentices so we’re presuming the £2,000 announced is on top of that or does it replace it? Likewise, can this be used in tandem with the Kickstart scheme, designed to get more young people back into work? If it can be, then this really is a gamechanger.

“With over 700 apprentices currently being trained at our three academies, we wanted to see specific support about protecting those currently studying so their jobs are safeguarded.

“The bonus for bringing a furloughed worker back could help in a small way, but I think we needed a bit more. We also wanted to see the Government look at funding a programme-led approach to apprenticeships, where we could train young people up to Level 2 and then find them an employer at the end – hopefully when the economy has picked back up again.”

John Corser

By John Corser
Business Reporter

Express & Star Business Editor at head office, Wolverhampton. Welcomes all news of companies and business organisations.

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