MP David Lidington speaks about apprenticeships at Aylesbury event

MP David Lidington speaks at University Campus Aylesbury Vale.

MP David Lidington speaks at University Campus Aylesbury Vale.

Aylesbury MP David Lidington has told businesses what the government is doing to encourage more to take on apprentices at an event at University Campus Aylesbury Vale.

Around 15 companies heard from the MP at ‘Attracting new talent into your business’, at the campus in Walton Street, Aylesbury, which focused on how to best attract a high calibre of young people to work for companies as apprentices.

Organised by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Buckinghamshire College Group, Buckinghamshire New University and Buckinghamshire Business First, it looked at how to recruit, retain and make best use of apprentices.

Mr Lidington spoke about the skills agenda, the government’s Industrial Strategy and apprenticeship opportunities for small and medium sized businesses.

James Anderson, Development Manager at FSB, added: “It was great to see so many people from across Buckinghamshire willing to take the time and contribute towards a healthy debate around the barriers to more apprentices being active in the county.

“David Lidington offered examples of tangible actions Government has taken to encourage more businesses to take apprentices and we also heard from The Entertainment and Education Group (TEEG), which showcased an excellent example of how the apprenticeships programme can be beneficial to all.”

The Apprenticeship Levy, which was introduced in April last year, is paid by employers in any sector with a pay bill of more than £3 million per year. Those employers can use their apprenticeship levy funds to access degree apprenticeships to develop their workforce.

Alexander Balicki, Business Development Manager (Apprenticeships) at Bucks New University, said: “It was great to be involved with an event connecting an employer with a young person and the key was giving the employers the information of when and where to go to find the young people to bring into their organisation.

“Despite the fact the Apprenticeship Levy doesn’t affect small businesses, we are finding they are still reluctant to engage with apprenticeships more.

“Why is this? The event aimed to bust some of the myths around apprenticeships and provide information that might make employing apprentices far more accessible and achievable.

“Throughout the morning we shared information on recruiting from the education system, the funding available for small businesses to support this, and how to set up an apprenticeship culture in small businesses.”

The FSB and Buckinghamshire Business First is looking to gain an understanding of how small businesses are using apprenticeships, and if they are not, why not, as well as examining what is happening locally in the recruitment and skills market.

Jackie Campbell, Skills Development Manager at Buckinghamshire Skills Hub, which aims to promote and optimise links between employers and educators, also spoke at the event about how to showcase a business to young people and encourage them to sign up for an apprenticeship.

Roundtable discussions examined how best to recruit from the education system; gain Apprenticeship Levy funding support for small businesses; set up an apprenticeship culture in a small business; and identify barriers to attracting and recruiting young people.

Bucks New University, based in High Wycombe, is working with the public and private sector to provide a range of Higher and Degree Apprenticeships which provide a flexible route for employers to access the life-changing opportunities that higher education provides.