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Gloucestershire Business News

Small firms give cool reception to new work placement scheme

Only six per cent of small businesses in England would be willing to offer work placements under current plans for T-levels, according to new research by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

It raises concerns that the scheme will fail without the right support for employers.

The Government has launched an action plan for delivering T-levels, which are due to begin being rolled out from 2020. As it stands, the new technical education route will include a compulsory minimum 45 day work placement for every student.

But the FSB says no support has been earmarked directly for small businesses to provide these substantive work placements.

Small businesses account for 60 per cent of all private sector employment in the UK. Despite this, the plan fails to adequately outline how businesses will be incentivised and supported, adds the FSB.

Mike Cherry, FSB national chairman, said: "The Government's plan fails to address the needs of small businesses who will be vital to the successful delivery of T-levels. If small firms don't get the right support, this will fall at the first hurdle.

"We absolutely recognise the value of the work experience placement and the integral role it plays in technical education routes for 16 to 18 year olds, but at the end of the day, this is a big 'ask,' particularly on small employers.

"Taking on a young person for a placement of this nature is a big responsibility, and over several months will mean the business will need to adapt to accommodate them. You've got to remember small businesses are already doing their best to invest in apprentices, and there's only so much extra time and resource you can give to support someone from outside of the business; particularly someone who is new to the workplace.

"For T-levels to work for both student and business, there needs to be clear incentive and guidance for small businesses to offer placements. It will not be sufficient for providers to create employer engagement strategies without businesses that are willing and prepared to host these students."

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