West Cornwall MP, Andrew George, urged a Government Minister to help small businesses in West Cornwall who want to create apprenticeships. Since 2010, the Liberal Democrats in Coalition have created over 2million new apprenticeships across the country, with 780 set up in the West Cornwall and Isles of Scilly constituency in 2013 and 670 established in the area last year.
These opportunities have provided jobs and in-work training across sectors including agriculture, business, health and engineering. The Apprenticeship Grant has been introduced to provide small businesses with £1500 for the first apprenticeship they set up. However, challenges remain for small and rural businesses in recruiting apprentices.
Mr George said, “I welcome the creation of hundreds of new apprenticeships in West Cornwall. The introduction of the apprenticeship grant for small businesses towards meeting the costs of employing apprentices will help. Apprenticeships provide benefits both for businesses and for the young person gaining employment and training. However, West Cornwall has a high number of small businesses which face distinct challenges which larger businesses do not face when seeking to recruit apprentices. More needs to be done to help rural and small businesses create apprenticeships.
The Government should be congratulated on what they have achieved with regard to apprenticeships, but the Minister will be aware that in rural and economically challenged areas such as mine in west Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, it is quite difficult to advance apprenticeships, particularly in small and micro-businesses. What will the Government do to ensure that small and micro-businesses can enjoy this success?
It is incredibly important that apprenticeships are created not just by the largest employers who obviously have the resources and capacity to engage with the scheme. That is why we introduced the apprenticeship grant for employers, which is specifically focused on small businesses and pays them £1,500 for the first new apprenticeships that they create. We are also looking at ways of making it easier for small businesses to get the Government’s money and to decide with whom they want to work as a training provider. But it is critical—only about 10% of employers are creating apprenticeships; if we could just double that, we could more than double the number of apprenticeships.