By Daniel Hunter

The Financial Skills Partnership has welcomed the findings of the Holt report into apprenticeships among small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

The employer-led industry body has agreed with the findings of Jason Holt who has called for greater awareness and increased support to help small and medium sized companies take on apprentices. The government, who commissioned the report, has already outlined a raft of new measures in light of recommendations made by Holt.

“The Holt report brings to the fore an issue that has been a priority of ours for some time. There has been an encouraging increase in vocational learning schemes within the financial sector," Liz Field, CEO of the Financial Skills Partnership, said.

"But with over 90% of companies in the sector falling into the SME category, the success of apprenticeships will come down to how well they are integrated into smaller firms.

“We have done a lot of detailed work developing apprenticeship frameworks for the profession at various levels, always taking care to work in close consultation with practitioners to ensure that, as each of these schemes is rolled out, it is a genuinely useful and relevant tool to help serve the needs of businesses. The reason why Jason Holt’s recommendations are so pertinent is because the needs of the small businesses take centre stage, and as a result, they will be confident in apprenticeships and the benefits they can deliver. Consequently, the apprentices themselves will have a much more positive experience and they will be guided into worthwhile, rewarding careers.”

The Financial Skills Partnership has created the Graduate Foundation College. Beginning in September, the initiative recruits bright unemployed graduates and offers them a concentrated and structured 10 week pre-employment training programme, designed to get them work-ready and let them hit the ground running. Successful graduates will then be offered industry experience in the form of a 6-month paid internship with an advisory firm.

Small firms in the financial services sector also have access to support through the FSP online Training and Competence toolkit specifically for small and medium-sized businesses. The tool is available when taking out the new category of partnership for small and medium-sized firms from FSP. There will also be a toolkit on implementing apprenticeships.

Liz Field concluded, “Despite the challenges that SMEs face in the current economy, there are some fantastic opportunities for companies to utilise the resources currently available to them. With the government taking on board the recommendations of the Holt report, I am confident that we will see much more vocational training taking place at companies of all sizes, which will ultimately have an impact on growth in the UK.”

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