wordcloudLast week we reported unpaid overtime, encouraging NEET figures, apprenticeships and opportunities for young people. The headlines this week focus on apprenticeships, the Budget 2014 and subsequent local business opportunities and women on boards.

The Budget bingo tax cut aims to create and save hundreds of jobs and revitalise Industry, which welcomed tax cuts and plans for the future.

In the Budget statement the Chancellor, George Osborne, announced new funding packages to boost the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE) scheme to take on more apprenticeships and to support degree level and postgraduate apprenticeships. Skills Minister Matthew Hancock subsequently announced the appointment of David Meller as Chair of the National Apprenticeship Ambassadors Network.

National Apprenticeship Week saw 20,000 new roles created by companies from Starbucks to EE and ITV. But behind the positive headlines were familiar gripes about the bureaucratic difficulties faced by the 44 per cent of organisations who expect to take on apprentices in the next five years. The most common causes of anguish surround funding and ownership of schemes, says Katerina Rüdiger, head of skills and policy campaigns at the CIPD and author of the Apprenticeships that Work report.

The Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) responded, welcoming plans for extra apprenticeship grants and the development of graduate-level apprenticeships, but cautioned that these reforms would need to be properly resourced in order to work.

Martin Doel, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, pointed out that: “it is only four months since the Autumn Statement and colleges are still working through the implications of the autumn 2013 announcements while also working out how to manage reduced budgets.”

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) responded, suggesting the Budget will “put wind in the sails of business investment, especially for manufacturers”. Apprenticeships, they said, are a crucial tool in fighting skills shortages and youth unemployment, so this additional support is very welcome – especially for smaller firms wanting to do more”, but cautioned that there is still a need to better demonstrate the benefits of apprenticeships to young people.

David Hughes of NIACE also responded suggesting that the Budget missed opportunities to address skills shortages. “As the economy picks up and despite some mention of skills, we were disappointed the Chancellor didn’t take more opportunities to boost ways for adults to increase their skills”. The Centre for Social and Economic Inclusion (CESI) responded to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecast, stating that the OBR forecast continuing falls in unemployment and the claimant count, and rises in employment.

Locally, businesses locating to the Aerohub Enterprise Zone at Newquay Cornwall Airport will benefit from tax incentives for a further three years, under measures announced by the Chancellor. The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership also welcomed the Budget statement. Steve Hindley, Chair of the Heart of the South West LEP, said: “Making transport improvements will enable us to create the right jobs for the future knowledge economy”.

Three years on from the ground-breaking review in 2011, Lord Davies and his steering group report a growing number of women in decision-making roles. The latest figures show that women now account for 20.7 per cent of board positions in the FTSE100 – up from 12.5 per cent in 2011 and 17.3 per cent in April 2013. Lord Davies originally set a target in 2011 of achieving 25 per cent in 2015.

…and finally, our very own Dr. Andrew Dean is speaking on the topic of tackling very long-term unemployment – discussing what works and why, on the 1st of May 2014 in Vauxhall, London – see the events section for further details.

I hope you find this information useful.