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Red tape cuts for apprentices are a good start, says industry leader

The Group CEO of the Electrical Contractors' Association (ECA), Steve Bratt, welcomes moves by government to reduce bureaucracy in hiring apprentices, saying they are a “step in the right direction” but urges these changes to be trickled down to small and medium sized firms as soon as possible to avoid a skills and employment crisis.

The Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) announced recently a pilot project that will slash red tape for firms contracting directly through the government.

The aim is to break down the administrative barriers to taking on apprentices. Bratt said, “This pilot is very exciting and we hope that the lessons from it are learned quickly so SMEs can benefit as soon as possible.

“The ECA currently sits on a BIS-convened industry board that is looking at ways to make taking on apprentices easier for SMEs and we look forward to further announcements shortly. Apprentices are an essential part of the British economy and any move that encourages more firms, big and small, to take on talented young people must be welcomed.

“Eighty-five per cent of the electrical contracting industry is made-up of SMEs, the backbone of UK plc, but they are being severely damaged by present economic circumstances and find it challenging to invest in apprentices.

“In the craft sector, we are sitting on a ticking time bomb. If we don't act now, we will not have the home-grown talent needed to fulfil this country's potential. The consequences of that will be more far reaching than most people realise,” he said.

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