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@FSB_policy has welcomed the announcement by Government launching the kickstart scheme aimed at helping young people into work.

But as schools in England reopen and pupils head back into the classroom for the first time in months, FSB is calling for a renewed focus on technical education and skills including the new T Levels, with an urgent need for clarity on the apprenticeship scheme that was announced before the summer.

Commenting on this, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chair Mike Cherry said: "As schools and colleges in England open their doors to pupils, many for first time in half a year, it's critical now more than ever that every pupil is afforded the best possible opportunity to succeed and give them the tools to thrive in their adult and working lives.

"The past few months of serious disruption have highlighted how important it is to be learning face to face and getting hands on experience. For young people to avoid being left behind, we need to see a reinvigoration of efforts to make sure they have more opportunities available to them. Our research has shown small businesses are disproportionately likely to employ from labour market disadvantaged groups including younger people. 

“The first experience young people have of work is incredibly important for the future of the economy which is why access to the kickstart scheme will be so important. So it’s good to see details of this finally being issued by the government.

“Also crucial to the development and upskilling of young people too are apprenticeships and traineeships which is why funding and easy access for employers is so critical if they are to have the positive effect that we need to inject some energy into the economy as well as to help provide high quality education as well as industry placements.

"The introduction of T Levels is a crucial element to help the Government's ambitions to achieve a long overdue parity of esteem between technical and higher education, and over the next few years this new qualification could be alternative to provide quality education as well as practical experience that will prepare them for the future.

"Another key avenue that is proven to work is through apprenticeships, of which 92 per cent of these at a small business are held by 16-24 year olds. But the number of apprenticeships is down massively compared to this time last year. In May and June apprenticeships starts fell by 60 per cent and 40 per cent compared to 2019. The new apprenticeship support must come online before it’s too late for many young people.

"With both of these qualifications, if small businesses are unable to survive the crisis, then we will see uptake continue to remain sluggish and potentially drop off further. Incentives for apprenticeships aren't enough on their own to keep businesses afloat as well as hiring an apprentice, so more must be done to ensure small firms have all the support they need to survive and then thrive after this pandemic.

"If more small businesses are unable to afford an apprentice, without the means to offer an industry placement for T Level pupil or provide a traineeship or kickstart role, we will be letting down the next generation. 

“Small businesses are the backbone of the economy, if they struggle to survive we will see communities suffer, competition stifled and unemployment rise. Which for our young people could risk further damaging the life chances of a generation already impacted by truncated exams and lost education.”

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