Jason Holt, chief executive of Holts Group, was commissioned to produce the report by the education and business secretaries after the Government committed to asking an SME employer to investigate measures that should be taken to give firms greater controls in the apprenticeship system.
Mr Holt concluded, after conversing with SMEs, that better resources and training through support is necessary if businesses are to improve and increase apprenticeship schemes.
“Whilst apprenticeships offer undoubted growth opportunities for businesses, not enough SMEs are taking advantage,” Mr Holt remarked.
“This is because they have an outdated view of apprenticeships, are often in the dark, and frequently do not receive the specific training provision their apprentices need.”
Government working with lawyers and accountants that advise SMEs is one of the measures that will be brought in to help businesses. Transparency issues will also be addressed, meaning that provision of information on apprenticeships will be improved and communications will be enhanced.
As well as this, training providers will agree to new standards; the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers will be simplified; and companies will be given more control over the development of skills.
Skills minister John Hayes said: “Jason’s experiences as an entrepreneur and training provider have enabled him to get to the root of what is getting in the way of small businesses accessing the benefits that apprentices can offer.
“Jason’s work will really help us to help SMEs improve productivity and build a better-skilled and dedicated workforce.”
Education secretary Michael Gove added: “[Jason] is certainly right that we need to give employers, and not training providers, the power and freedom to shape their apprenticeships, and make the process as simple as possible for every employer.”
Vince Cable, business secretary, concluded: “Only a small minority of SMEs currently employ apprentices. Many of the rest are missing out on an effective way of growing and up-skilling their businesses.
“We hope that the measures announced today will make a difference by raising awareness of the benefits of apprenticeships amongst SMEs and making it as easy as possible for these businesses to take on an apprentice.”
Jason Holt’s review can be viewed online at: http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/further-education-skills/docs/m/12-891-making-apprenticeships-more-accessible-to-smes-holt-review.pdf