A national industry body has warned that proposed changes to government funding could place apprenticeships ‘out of reach’ for small firms looking to employ a trainee.
The Electrical Contractors’ Association has said that a mooted change that would firms pay training costs upfront and be reimbursed later could impact greatly on cash flow and put apprenticeships beyond the reach of many SMEs.
A survey of 800 firms showed that 94% fear a reduction in the Government’s contribution to the cost of an apprentice’s training will lead to their company taking on no apprentices or fewer apprentices in the future.
Diane Johnson, of the ECA, said: “I’ve stressed many times that we already have a skills crisis in our industry and this could tip us and other skilled industries vital to our economy over the brink.
“Where is our homegrown talent going to come from and who will be the UK’s future captains of industry if, before any of us can even consider taking on apprentices, we have to jump through a series of hoops?
“Not only will we have to source our own training, negotiate the price and take on all the bureaucratic load, but we will have to worry about finding the cash to pay upfront while trying to run a business following a deep recession. It’s a ticking time bomb, and with this latest erosion, I fear that the ticking will stop and one almighty bang will follow.”
ECA’s survey showed that 90% are opposed to any cut in Government support for smaller firms and 95% feel the funding proposals will adversely impact on the cash flow of small businesses and will result in increased bureaucracy for employers.