A route for economic growth for SME's

by Paul Brammer on March 8, 2013

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Apprenticeships, the Governments flagship programme, is all about raising skills in the workplace and subsequently driving forward economic growth in the UK, however, recent reports suggest that the Apprenticeship scheme continues to lack clarity and purpose for the longer term with employers…who remain confused about the principal objective of the route way. For SMEs it is even more complicated; purely down to the resources available and the operational demands of providing quality on the job training.

Whilst action is being taken to make Apprenticeships more accessible and understandable to SMEs through initiatives such as City Deals, where the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) and the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) are working with local bodies…there is another alternative.

SMEs have two major concerns; the shortage of skilled workforces and also financing and funding constraints, with finance institutions taking a very conservative approach in lending money to SMEs. Some SMEs realise that company culture and leadership are critical factors in tackling labour issues, but equally important is the need to attract, develop and mould new talent. Apprenticeships are a way in which generation gaps in industries can be addressed. However, the big question is this; does an SME have the time, resource or knowledge to deal with the red tape and sometime bureaucracy in taking on an Apprentice?

ATA’s offer a unique approach to the recruitment of apprentices. The ATA model supports the delivery of high quality Apprenticeships with a particular focus on smaller employers who would like to benefit from Apprenticeships but use the services of an ATA to source, arrange and host their apprentices. This could be for a number of reasons. They may not be able to commit to the full Apprenticeship framework, they may be experiencing short-term restrictions on employee numbers, or they could actually still need convincing 100% of the value of an Apprenticeship.

The distinctive feature of the ATA model is that it is the ATA acts as the Apprentice’s employer and places them with a host employer, which pays the ATA an agreed management fee for the apprentice’s services along with the apprentice’s salary (Inc. NI & PAYE cont).

The ATA is not a ‘temporary work’ business but rather a means to manage and give real flexibility to the delivery of a high quality Apprenticeship. This flexibility also applies where employers may not be able to offer all aspects of a framework, but by linking them with other host employers the full range can be covered. Alongside this, the ATA approach offers people another route into an Apprenticeship; one which can offer apprentices the opportunity to experience a range of employers and increased security around the continuation of their Apprenticeship.

Paul Brammer

Paul Brammer is the Director of Services at Stafforce. He is responsible for delivery of the non-recruitment business plan in line with wider business objectives and growth strategies as a contribution to the overall direction and vision of Stafforce. Follow Paul on Twitter, read the Stafforce blog and connect with Paul via LinkedIn.

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