New measures to ensure apprenticeships a

New measures to ensure apprenticeships are made available have been launched as the latest unemployment figures show that youth unemployment has passed the 1 million mark.

The Government will offer employers with up to 50 employees an incentive payment of up to £1500 for taking on apprentices aged between 16 and 24. This will support up to 20,000 new apprenticeships in 2012/13, the Government claims.

Business secretary Vince Cable has also announced a series of measures that will slash the red tape that can act as a deterrent for employers to offer apprenticeships, including simplifying the process by streamlining health and safety requirements.

Business bodies have welcomed the news, particularly, the incentive payment, which will encourage smaller businesses to take on apprentices.

Commenting, John Walker, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: “We very much welcome the action the Government is taking on apprenticeships. In particular it is good news that businesses will receive an incentive payment to take help them with the demands of taking on an apprentice. A third of businesses responding to an FSB survey said this would encourage them to take an apprentice on and a rebalancing of current funding to provide this is something we have called for, for some time. With youth unemployment reaching almost a million, initiatives like this will help the smallest of firms to take on young people. Nevertheless there remains a need for a continued focus on helping small businesses take on apprentices and the barriers they face in doing so.”

While Dr Adam Marshall, Director of Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said: “Businesses do see the benefit of apprenticeships. For many business owners they are a critical way to train up young people and adults that then help grow their firms. However, smaller companies often shy away from taking on apprentices. They worry about the initial costs involved, the skill levels of candidates, and the potential risks to their business, particularly at a time when employing people is tough due to worries about the economy.”

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