Steve Nash, chief executive of the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) is hoping to be able to put the case to the new Minister for Skills, Nick Boles, that the new apprenticeship standards don’t exclude smaller businesses

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In particular, he is concerned that the current model being debated by ‘trailblazer’ groups doesn’t fully take into account the funding, administrative and most importantly, skills needs of smaller businesses.

“The Government has clearly demonstrated its support of apprenticeships, calling for them to be viewed as equally valid alternatives to A levels and university programmes”, Nash said. “And we believe that the ‘new norm’, as the Government is calling apprenticeships, is already being adopted by many employers in the automotive retail sector, with our latest analysis showing that there was a 4.2 per cent increase in apprenticeship starts in 2012/13.

“But going forward, the key to success will be ensuring that micros and small businesses, which make up around 75 per cent of our sector, can be as engaged in apprenticeships as bigger employers. We are concerned that those conducting trailblazer projects are being encouraged to develop standards at a minimum Level 3. Yet currently, the majority of apprenticeship completions in our sector are at Level 2.”

The IMI believes setting the benchmark at Level 3 misses the fact that there are a considerable proportion of businesses across the UK – and particularly in the automotive sector – that simply do not need all of the skills required to achieve Level 3, yet still want and need to be able to demonstrate their competence to undertake work at a Level 2 equivalent standard. For example, independent garages with less than five employees. Read full article...

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