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Small Businesses: Training

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL1092, tabled on 14 June 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide subsidised skills training courses for small businesses.

Answered on

28 June 2021

The government recognises the enormous value that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) contribute to the UK economy. The department offers a variety of skills provision to ensure individuals are equipped with the skills that businesses need, including 16-19 funding, the adult education budget (AEB) and apprenticeships. Funding for the AEB and 16-19 provision is allocated to providers, including colleges, higher education institutions, training organisations, local authorities and employers who receive Education and Skills Funding Agency-funded provision from us, to deliver education and training to learners.

We will continue to work closely with all employers, including SMEs, to support learners to gain the skills that they need for work. Skills bootcamps offer free, flexible courses of up to 16 weeks, giving eligible adults the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer. We have already introduced Skills Bootcamps in 6 local areas, and we are investing a further £43 million from the National Skills Fund to expand them across England. Skills bootcamps are led by employers who work together with providers to deliver the skills that are most needed locally. We are also exploring how this model can be used for different sized organisations, including SMEs.

Led by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), sector-based work academy programmes (SWAPs) help employers with immediate and future employment needs by upskilling job seekers to fill locally identified vacancies. We remain committed to supporting DWP with training placements for the planned increase in the number of SWAP starts, during the financial year 2021-22.

We are also committed to supporting SMEs to benefit from the high-quality training that apprenticeships offer. In the 2021-22 financial year, the funding available for investment in apprenticeships in England is £2.5 billion, which is double what was spent in the 2010-11 financial year. This includes funding for employers that do not pay the levy, who will continue to be able to access funding for 95% of apprenticeship training and assessment costs. In addition, we pay 100% of the training costs for employers with fewer than 50 employees when they take on certain apprentices, including 16 to 18-year-olds. SMEs can reserve funding for up to 10 new apprenticeship starts in the 2021-22 financial year.

As announced by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy this June, small businesses will be able to access a 12 week-programme delivered by leading business schools across the UK, accredited by the Small Business Charter. ‘Help to Grow: Management’ will combine a practical curriculum, with one-to-one support from a business mentor, peer-learning sessions and an alumni network. Designed to be manageable alongside full-time work, this programme will support small business leaders to develop their strategic skills with key modules covering financial management, innovation and digital adoption. By the end of the programme, participants will develop a tailored business growth plan to lead their business to its full potential. 30,000 places will be available over 3 years. The programme is 90% subsidised by the government – participants will be charged £750.