At an industry event in Birmingham organised by HomeServe and attended by representatives from The Princes Trust, London School of Economics, Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, City and Guilds and Black Country Chamber of Commerce, John Hayes, Conservative Shadow Minister for Universities and Skills, revealed the Conservative Party’s proposals to streamline the Apprenticeship process and radically boost participation in schemes across UK industries.

Speaking at the event, Mr Hayes said: “We see apprenticeships as the heart of our policy for education going forwards. Practical learning is arguably the height of learning. Whereas academic learning is derivative at a base degree level, basic apprenticeship is creative by its very nature. We want to remove the stigma associated with apprenticeships and see schemes made available not only to young people but even to people in their thirties, who want to train and learn new skills that can be taken on throughout life.”

Mr Hayes highlighted some of the key features of a Conservative apprenticeship scheme:

  • Money would be moved from the Train to Gain scheme to straightforward apprenticeship
  • Overheads and paperwork required to take on apprentices would be reduced
  • Barriers between pre-19 and post-19 apprenticeships would be removed
  • The Conservatives will boost SME apprenticeships with a £2,000 offer to companies taking on apprentices

Richard Harpin, founder and Chief Executive of HomeServe plc commented: “As a life long entrepreneur, the issue of running an effective apprenticeship scheme with better participation holds a great personal and business interest for me. HomeServe is committed to recruiting and developing apprentices throughout the business.

“We are calling on all political parties to commit to policies that will provide practical support for businesses that invest in developing a highly trained workforce through Apprenticeship programmes. At present, funding bodies for apprenticeships lack a fundamental understanding of the real needs of the business community, employers are being stymied by beaurocracy and funding agencies don’t allow businesses to automatically improve training to suit the needs of their organisation. The National Employer Service dictates to businesses when funds supplied should be invested, rather than allowing the business to concentrate training during quieter operational periods”

Richard also called on the Conservatives to increase the funding offered to small businesses to take on their first apprentice.

HomeServe, the home emergency company, plans to invest £1 million over the next three years in apprenticeships, resulting in 20 per cent of HomeServe’s national engineer network coming from apprenticeships. It also runs a successful Call Centre apprenticeship programme which focuses on developing all existing employees to a minimum of Level Three and is planning to introduce the qualification into their Call Centre induction programme. The company has also recently launched a development scheme that will allow more than twenty employees every year to step into their first managerial role.