Small business hits out over plans for “co-funding” of apprenticeships

CHANGES: The team at GF Electrical, based at Holton Heath

CHANGES: The team at GF Electrical, based at Holton Heath

First published in News
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PLANS to make employers bear more of the costs of apprenticeships could hit small businesses hard, it is claimed.

GF Electrical has hit out at proposals for the “co-funding” of apprenticeships, which were part of a government consultation that closed recently.

Michelle Fisher, who established the company 10 years ago with husband Gary, said they had three apprentices among their 11-strong team based at Holton Heath.

She was concerned about the impact on cash flow if employers are forced to pay fees up front for their apprentices’ training and claim back some of the costs through the PAYE system. It is not yet clear how much of the costs would be recoverable.

“For slightly larger companies it’s not too much of a problem but for small businesses and sole traders, it really causes them a problem,” she said.

“We’re still struggling from 2008-9 when the recession was out there, especially in this industry. We don’t need the hassle.”

Apprenticeships in electrical contracting run for four years and require a lot of supervision from experienced staff.

“In the 10 years we’ve been in business, we’ve always had apprentices, but it’s not profitable for a company in the early stages,” said Mrs Fisher.

The company took on apprentices Matt Hughes and Jamie O’Shea last year through the training organisation JTL, which deals with coursework.

Mrs Fisher said: “The guys have brought vitality to the company and have integrated really well into the team.

“We’ve had plenty of positive feedback so we decided to take on another apprentice, Daryl Nimmo, last month.”

Skills minister Matthew Hancock has said the apprenticeship system needs to be reformed “to put it at the forefront of economic growth for years to come”.

A ‘trailblazers’ scheme which began last year saw the setting of new apprenticeship standards in the sectors involved, along with a new funding system which meant businesses received £2 for every £1 they invest in apprenticeships.

Mr Hancock said: “Apprenticeships will deliver higher quality across the board, skills relevant to the future and give everyone in the country the opportunity to realise their potential. I am calling for businesses to come alongside us and we can go forward together.”

Comments (2)

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6:25pm Mon 9 Jun 14

MikeGB says...

So the prospect of paying people to work for them, even at 1/3rd of the wage, is seen as a problem? companies big and small should be prepared to invest in the workforce without asking the taxpayer to subsidise their business. There is a good case for co-funding, and now the economy has bottomed out it is time business found it's own feet. I don't object to government helping to fund apprenticeships, I do object to them being fully funded when it is not necessary.
So the prospect of paying people to work for them, even at 1/3rd of the wage, is seen as a problem? companies big and small should be prepared to invest in the workforce without asking the taxpayer to subsidise their business. There is a good case for co-funding, and now the economy has bottomed out it is time business found it's own feet. I don't object to government helping to fund apprenticeships, I do object to them being fully funded when it is not necessary. MikeGB
  • Score: 0

9:56pm Mon 9 Jun 14

Hessenford says...

I did an apprenticeship when I left school quite a few years ago and the company paid my wage, there was none of this course work rubbish, I was taught everything I needed to know by experienced staff and when I completed the training I was awarded full wage and worked for the company for a number of years.
Companies today use apprenticeships as cheap labor and expect the tax payer to subsidise it, they should stand on their own feet and cough up some of their profits to gain future experienced workers.
I did an apprenticeship when I left school quite a few years ago and the company paid my wage, there was none of this course work rubbish, I was taught everything I needed to know by experienced staff and when I completed the training I was awarded full wage and worked for the company for a number of years. Companies today use apprenticeships as cheap labor and expect the tax payer to subsidise it, they should stand on their own feet and cough up some of their profits to gain future experienced workers. Hessenford
  • Score: 0

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