By Ben Simmons

Skills Minister John Hayes today announced that social entrepreneur and jeweller Jason Holt will head-up an employer-led review examining what more can be done to help small firms take on apprentices.

Mr Holt will talk to a wide range of stakeholders about a number of issues, including improving the marketing of the apprenticeships programme to small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) and how to cut red tape to further speed up and simplify the process of taking on and training apprentices.

As well as running a jewellery business in Hatton Garden, London, Mr Holt also runs Holts Academy of Jewellery — a not-for-profit training academy.

“I am delighted Mr Holt has agreed to lead this review," commented Minister Hayes. "His experience, both as a business man and through running a training academy, gives him invaluable insight into the needs of both small businesses and apprentices.

“I want to ensure that small businesses can enjoy the multitude of benefits that apprentices can offer a company — including improved productivity and the chance to build a better-skilled and dedicated workforce. This review will play a vital role in achieving that aim.”

And Mr Holt said:

"I am delighted to have been asked by Ministers to lead this Review. It is vital that we make the apprenticeship route as accessible as possible for SMEs.

“As the owner of several such companies, including an Academy, I hope that I can use my experience to add value and make a positive and practical contribution to something so fundamental in the growth of business.”

The review will build on the Government initiatives already underway to make the apprenticeships system more responsive to SME needs.

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