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Scheme launched to encourage small businesses apprentices

A new ‘work ready’ Apprenticeship venture has been launched to encourage small businesses to employ more apprentices.

The Apprentice Agency, a joint venture between not-for-profit education body LSN and The Workshop, a creative consultancy, aims to cut the red tape that can put business owners off employing apprentices.

The programme is being piloted in Reading and Oxford, where businesses will be offered a choice of apprentices that will be given the chance to take one on.

Only three Apprenticeships, IT technician, Business Administrator and IT User, will be offered initially.

Phil Jefferies, manager of the Apprentice Agency, said: “We’ve launched with these courses first because every business needs administrative and IT support, and many don’t realise that Apprenticeship is an option when they are looking to fill these roles.

“The service is completely employer-led, and available to help businesses source and manage a high quality apprentice.”

Reading College is one of the Apprentice Agency’s first clients, and has used the programme to secure its first ICT apprentices.

Sally Dicketts, principal of Reading and Oxford and Cherwell Valley Colleges, said: “In my view, Apprenticeships raise students’ learning and future job prospects to a higher level, and many businesses report back on a whole range of benefits that apprentices bring.

“We encourage businesses to get in touch with the Apprentice Agency, to discuss the benefits, particularly in terms of time and cost, that it can offer them.”

The Apprenticeship Agency aims to place 300 apprentices within its first 12 months of operation.

Mark Astley

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