The summer closure of Parliament does not stop MPs from asking questions and the Government responding to them. What is so tragic is that far too often the same or similar questions get asked and almost identical answers get made and nothing appears to change in the one size fits all Government policies. As I wrote a few days ago, one of the challenges that impacts the small business sector when it comes to taking on apprenticeships is that even the Government can only take on 2.7% of their staff as apprenticeships and most small businesses are too small to be able to match this proportion even if they took on one person. So one way to try to resolve this is to offer small businesses much great support than the Government is currently offering all businesses, irrespective of their size. A £2,000 grant for an under 25 year old apprentice and a £1,500 grant for an over 25 year old apprentice may well work ok for large businesses but small businesses would need more significant funding if they were to take on an apprentice, particularly as the Apprenticeship Levy which was supposed to begin in 2017 and was claimed it would provide small businesses with training support has never arrived. Anyway just to repeat the response that was handed to Karin Smyth who is the MP for Bristol South, here it is from Gillian Keegan, the MP for Chichester.
As part of the government’s Plan for Jobs, apprenticeships will be more important than ever in helping businesses to recruit the right people and develop the skills they need to recover post COVID-19. Apprenticeships also present excellent opportunities to young people seeking to start and build careers.
The number of new apprenticeships that will be taken up by employers benefiting from the incentive payments announced in the summer economic update on 8 July 2020 will depend on a wide range of factors that will impact on the recruitment decisions of those employers in difficult economic circumstances.
The new incentive payments are there to encourage employers to take on new apprenticeship recruits. They are designed to help as many employers as possible in responding to the pressures of the first six months of the economic recovery, in enabling flexibility to create the apprenticeship opportunities which will benefit their business.
So let us hope that by the time that the MPs return to the House of Commons for a few days in early September that some of them will have bothered to contact a few small businesses to ask why this is not sufficient for them to try to improve matters for the young and not so young people wanting to gain an apprenticeship at the moment.