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Small businesses need money to make Modern Apprenticeships a success


The government should provide financial support for small businesses in order to make Modern Apprenticeships a success for them, according to the Institute of Directors.

The Institute says that the government should pay at least 50 percent of the costs of training Modern Apprentices in small firms and provide consistently stable subsidies across the country so that small businesses can plan properly for the apprentices they take on.

In addition, the Institute has called for the inclusion of key skills such as communication skills, numeracy and IT into all Modern Apprenticeship programmes, and specified periods of time for teaching the theory behind the occupations being taken up by the trainees.

According to Richard Wilson, IoD Business Policy Executive, more hands-on government support is vital to make vocational training a success - something which is key to building a competitive workforce: “Historically, the Achilles heel of the British education system has been a failure to educate a sufficient number of people with vocational qualifications in comparison to our overseas competitors. Today, only 14% of British employees hold intermediate level vocational qualifications, compared to 46% in Germany. The failure to train and equip a greater proportion of the UK labour force with vocational skills has contributed to skill shortages in the UK economy and has probably impaired productivity."

The Institute was responding to a consultation paper from the Department for Education and Employment (DfEE), which related to the proposed changes in the way that Modern Apprenticeships will be run.

In February, Secretary of State David Blunkett promised £30 million during the next year for the scheme, which will see some changes in the form of re-branding in an attempt to reduce the confusion about vocational qualifications highlighted by the Skills Task Force earlier in the year. As a result, by January 2001, National Traineeships will be re-branded as Modern Foundation Apprenticeships and Modern Apprenticeships will become Advanced Modern Apprenticeships.

In a speech to the Further Education Funding Council, Blunkett said that Modern Apprenticeships were held in high esteem by employers as "a genuinely high quality alternative route through to both employment and higher education", although he acknowledged that the rate of qualifications and retention of trainees needed to be improved.

Speaking about working directly with employers, Blunkett said that "there is no reason at all why we shouldn’t re-engage with the sector in terms of the off-the-job there will be a requirement for the advanced modern apprenticeship to have off-the-job provision."

The government has been busy plugging the Modern Apprenticeship scheme in the past few weeks with its 'Don't Quit Now' campaign.


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