Government failing on SME apprentices

The government has been criticised today for failing to make significant progress on its pledge to get three million young people into apprenticeships. Labour MP Karin Smyth first raised the subject with skills minister Nick Boles back in March, asking when he expected more details and concrete plans to emerge.

“I have been waiting for progress since March, but sadly we have been let down,”said Smith in a blog today on Labour Live. She went on to say there was still no clarity on how the funds raised by apprentice levy would benefit small business.

‘Minister must take urgent steps’

“Yet ministers have still failed to issue any meaningful guidance to SMEs which might wish to use the fund…So the April document has failed to ‘fulsomely’ provide answers that SMEs, training providers and would-be apprentices need. The skills minister must take urgent steps to address the ‘severe disappointment’ he will no doubt be feeling, by setting out the detail we all need to see.”

Smyth didn’t hold back on what she felt would be the consequences for the continued delay and confusion: “SMEs in Bristol and elsewhere are left hanging until the winter, unable to make any credible future apprenticeship and training plans. And with many young people hoping for an apprenticeship in September following a batch of summer assessment results, it looks as though any substantial new opportunities for SMEs triggered by the levy will not be able to kick off until autumn 2018 at the earliest.”

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