Robert Halfon MP meets Federation of Small Businesses to talk Scaling Up Skills


Robert Halfon MP, Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships & Higher Education, has rounded off his tour of the UK in support of National Apprenticeship Week with a visit to members of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Essex.

The roundtable event, held on Friday 10 February at Harlow College in his own constituency, saw Mr Halfon meet with FSB members and some of their apprentices, who shared their experiences of how it has benefited their businesses.

Ann Scott, Development Manager (Essex) at Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said:

“Apprenticeships offer a fantastic opportunity to empower young people, enable career changes and support those seeking to climb the ladder of social mobility into a better-paid job.

“Success is contingent on the right support though, so we are delighted that some of our Essex members got the opportunity to meet with Robert Halfon MP to explore FSB recommendations, including the introduction of a £3,000 apprenticeship incentive for under 25s and small businesses”.

With FSB figures showing that a third of small businesses recognise skills shortages as a significant hindrance to their growth, the FSB have called for the Government to prioritise upskilling the next generation who currently face a daunting job market, which could help unlock long-term, economic benefits for generations to come.

The call for a £3,000 apprenticeship incentive comes as figures from the Department for Education (DfE) show the significant impact of the Government’s increased apprenticeship incentive during the pandemic.

Apprenticeship starts surged by 21% following a £3,000 incentive for all age groups, from the previous £2,000 for young apprentices and £1,500 for older apprentices.

Since a reduction back to £1,000 for under 19s and care leavers only, apprenticeship starts have plummeted by 12%.

Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education, Robert Halfon MP, said after the visit:

“It was a pleasure to attend the FSB roundtable with small business owners and apprentices to hear their valuable insight into the benefits and challenges of apprenticeships.

“I learnt a lot and I will continue to do everything I can to incentivise more small businesses to take on apprentices. Their involvement is crucial to enabling more people of all ages and backgrounds to gain the skills those businesses need, earn while they learn, and climb the skills ladder of opportunity.”

The FSB roundtable held at Harlow College also involved meeting with apprentices working in the Harlow Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Centre.

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