Training bodies aim to boost apprentice take-up

Innovative new models to help small businesses take on greater numbers of apprentices are being launched today by apprenticeship minister Kevin Brennan.

Twelve organisations have won a share of £7m of Government funding to set up new Apprenticeship Training Associations (ATAs) and Group Training Associations (GTAs). The new models will help a range of organisations, especially small businesses, to offer over 14,000 apprenticeship places for young people over the next three years, with a focus on opportunities for 16 to 18-year-olds. The apprenticeships will be offered in industries vital for the country’s economic growth, including environmental, creative, engineering, manufacturing, logistics and business administration.

Apprenticeship Training Associations (ATAs) are companies or partnerships acting as a recruitment agency, placing apprentices with “host” employers. This new model is based on an Australian programme where they provide around 10% of all places. If the host business is unable to continue supporting the apprentice for any reason, they return to the ATA and are re-assigned to another business.

The funding will also help develop and expand new Group Training Associations (GTAs). GTAs have existed since the 1960s. For small businesses which might not have the capacity to provide their own training, a GTA helps them to share expertise with other employers and develop their own dedicated training. The fund has encouraged GTAs to be developed in sectors which currently have low numbers of apprentices.

Tomorrow, the National Apprenticeships Service launches its “Good for Business” initiative, a campaign to raise awareness among businesses of the long and short-term benefits for employers in the public and private sector of taking on apprentices.

Kevin Brennan said: “We want to give small and medium-sized firms the extra support and resources they need to take on more apprentices. These innovative models mean small businesses, who may not previously have felt able to offer apprenticeships, can now get on board and back young Britain. Today’s announcement means greater flexibility for small businesses and greater security for apprentices.

“Apprenticeships are a key route to building the nation’s skills and as we rebuild growth, it’s really important that we continue to invest in people and their skills, especially in industries key to our future economic success. The campaign launching this week will highlight the benefits apprentices can bring to more businesses up and down the country.”

The nine ATAs and 3 GTAs will provide over 3,000 apprenticeship starts this academic year.

Simon Waugh, Chief Exec of National Apprenticeship Service, said: “The National Apprenticeship Service is dedicated to adopting innovative approaches as we increase our employer engagement. Apprenticeships are the optimal way of training, developing and skilling people for the future. These new models will play a vital part in ensuring high quality, flexible provision can be delivered to support apprentices in all types of business.”