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Commitment to 'employer owned' apprenticeships is welcomed

Published 16th June, 2010 by Neil Nixon

Commitment to 'employer owned' apprenticeships is welcomed

Asset Skills has welcomed the new government’s commitment to apprenticeships and hopes it will boost efforts to promote skills training through the new employer funded Virtual Academy for Business Services.

It follows the announcement by the new Secretary of State for Business Vince Cable that he is committed to ‘high quality, employer owned apprenticeships’ and will refocus £150 million into an extra 50,000 apprenticeship places in 2010/11.

“We are delighted that the Secretary of State for Business has recognised the importance of employer owned apprenticeship programmes,” said Richard Beamish, chief executive of Asset Skills, the Sector Skills Council for facilities management. “Employers will be greatly encouraged by the fact the new government is expanding apprenticeships so rapidly and recognising them as being good for the productivity of the economy. The pledge to increase the number of apprenticeship places, especially for small businesses, sits well with the new apprenticeships we are trialling in facilities management as part of our new Virtual Academy for Business Services.”

The Virtual Academy pilot was launched by Asset Skills in May. The model is innovative in the world of skills training in that it is funded through its employer membership and does not form part of the National Skills Academy network which draws on the public purse.

Business Services has been identified as a future growth industry in the government’s National Strategic Skills Audit 2010, which claimed raising skills in this area should be a priority.

Facilities management plays a major role in this sector with a diverse workforce including facilities managers, buildings maintenance teams, cleaners, security guards, receptionists, caterers, gardeners and hospital porters. It also has an important part in helping the UK meet its environmental targets through the efficient energy management of buildings.

The apprenticeship in facilities management is the industry’s first apprenticeship programme. To kick off the Virtual Academy, the scheme is being trialled in six regions of England. A series of early employer events are planned to promote the apprenticeship. Asset Skills wants to hear from FM employers interested in participating in the apprenticeship pilots. For more information, contact Tom Orton on: torton@assetskills.org or call the Virtual Academy for Business Services on 0844 822 2525.