Sugar spearheads apprenticeship campaign

Sir Alan Sugar's attempts to promote the benefits of apprenticeships would seem timely, as a new survey reveals employers are largely unaware of government reforms to cut bureaucracy in the system.

While 76 per cent of companies believe there are clear business benefits to hiring apprentices, only seven per cent said they were aware of the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), according to a new survey of 800 employers by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

Speaking to, skills minister Lord Young says: ‘It is possible that SMEs have been put off the apprenticeship scheme as it has been difficult to access in the past. The NAS should take a lot of the bureaucracy out of it by creating a one-stop shop for businesses.’

Jill Carr, training manager at yacht builder Pendennis, has been recruiting apprentices for more than ten years. She says: ‘The apprentices we take on are the future of our company, they give us longevity. [Apprenticeships] are definitely something that can benefit small businesses.’

Ian Murray, senior policy officer at the Trades Union Congress, believes the NAS should help small businesses that don’t have HR departments by providing face-to-face advice.

He adds: ‘The big challenge has been to get employers to take up the scheme. It’s understandable that a lot of SMEs are just looking to survive on a day-to-day basis, but apprenticeships are a long-term means of improving the business.’

Dr John McGurk, CIPD adviser, says: ‘It’s clear from the findings that the government needs to do more to promote key reforms aimed at simplifying the apprenticeship system.’

See also: How investing in apprentices can grow your business

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