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BOOSTING awareness among small and medium sized employers is key to unlocking the economic benefits of apprenticeships, the Government was told today.

Jason Holt, a jeweller and social entrepreneur commissioned by ministers to review ways to make apprenticeships simpler and more accessible, said smaller employers often had “outdated” views on the schemes.

He recommended the Government improve communication about apprenticeships, shift the balance of influence towards employers taking on apprentices and away from providers of training schemes, and simplify the system.

Ministers, including Education Secretary Michael Gove and Business Secretary Vince Cable, welcomed the Holt Review, and committed to taking measures to improve apprenticeships.

These will include modifying the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE), agreeing new standards for training providers, and improving communication about schemes – including via groups such as lawyers, who advise small and medium employers.

Publishing his report, Mr Holt said: “Whilst apprenticeships offer undoubted growth opportunities for businesses, not enough SMEs are taking advantage.

“This is because they have an outdated view of apprenticeships, are often in the dark, and frequently do not receive the specific training provision their apprentices need.

“My recommendations are intended to address these issues with Government, employers and providers all playing a part.”

Mr Gove said: “Jason has raised important issues for us to consider – we can and must go even further, to strip out bureaucracy and to ensure quality.”

Mr Cable added: “Only a small minority of SMEs currently employ apprentices. Many of the rest are missing out on an effective way of growing and up-skilling their businesses. We hope that the measures announced today will make a difference by raising awareness of the benefits of apprenticeships amongst SMEs and making it as easy as possible for these businesses to take on an apprentice.”