Apprentice scheme blasted as red tape

Babs Murphy
Babs Murphy

Business leaders have criticised a new Government scheme to force some firms to take on apprentices.

The Government has launched a new requirement for businesses bidding for government contracts to demonstrate a clear commitment to apprenticeships.

Spencer Harrison

Spencer Harrison

North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Babs Murphy said the additional red tape would ‘stifle’ SMEs in the county.

She said: “Red tape and regulation are costing North West businesses a phenomenal amount of money year on year and yet again they are expected to deal with more.

“Until the Government delivers a significant reduction in regulation this burden will continue to stifle enterprise and growth.

“Additional red tape will stifle the will of many SMEs to take advantage of public procurement opportunities.”

Small and medium size businesses in particular would view this as yet another hoop they have to jump through in the already complex world of doing business with the public sector

Adam Marshall, executive director of policy and external affairs at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Everyone wants to see more high quality apprenticeship places being created but adding red tape and bureaucracy to government procurement opportunities isn’t the way to make it happen.

“Small and medium size businesses in particular would view this as yet another hoop they have to jump through in the already complex world of doing business with the public sector.

“Businesses up and down Britain agree that the best way to increase the number of apprenticeships is to focus relentlessly on their quality, and by ensuring that they are viewed as positively as academic qualifications by employers.”

Neil Carberry, CBI Director for Employment and Skills, said:“We need as many companies as possible to be offering apprenticeships, but that can only happen if the system is simple and flexible enough to meet the needs of smaller businesses.”

But one Fylde coast training company said training the future generations was important.

Spencer Harrison, managing director of PHX Training, said: “Having a workforce which incorporates apprentices helps to build a dynamic and flexible team, adding value to the business and underpinning training and running costs, while supporting local and national economies.

“I believe businesses should participate in this initiative and lead by example; PHX Training actively employs apprentices, which provides an excellent platform for accessing employment with training. I think this should be a commitment for all employers, with a reasonable minimum proportion agreed for large businesses.”