Budget 2011: £180m boost for apprenticeships

Today’s Budget promised £180 million in funding for apprenticeships in a bid to create a more educated and flexible UK workforce.

The funding is expected to create up to 50,000 new apprenticeship placements over the next four years, and could build on IT schemes already in place, for example, at Accenture, BT, IBM and Microsoft.

CIOs were eager for the Chancellor to focus on skills ahead of the budget. IT industry representatives recently argued at a Westminster eForum that more internships and apprenticeships are needed to attract and keep IT workers in the sector.

“In England, fewer than one in 10 employers offer apprenticeships. That’s got to change,” said Chancellor George Osborne.

To help small and medium-sized firms access these apprenticeships, the Osborne said that government grants will be provided to support business consortia to set up and maintain “advanced and higher” schemes creating 10,000 of these new placements.

The new funding is in addition to the government’s previously announced £1.4 billion apprenticeships programme.

Today’s Budget also saw the government revealing plans to double the number of university technical colleges it is establishing, to at least 24 by 2014.

These would be created through partnerships with educational institutions and businesses, and provide technical training to 11 to 19-year-olds.

“The sponsors will help set curricula to match the needs of the local economy and of their sectors, provide high-quality work placements, and allow colleges to use their specialist facilities,” the Budget report said.

Last year, BT doubled its apprenticeship intake to more than 400 after receiving thousands of strong applications. This was followed by Microsoft pledging to create 4,000 UK jobs in 2011, including apprenticeships, after attending a ‘jobs summit’ with Prime Minister David Cameron.

Meanwhile,IBM launched its first-ever apprenticeship scheme for school leavers in August 2010, in addition to its graduate recruitment and student placements.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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