Small Businesses

Oral Answers to Questions — Innovation, Universities and Skills – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 26th June 2008.

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Photo of Madeleine Moon Madeleine Moon PPS (Jim Knight, Minister of State), Department for Children, Schools and Families 10:30 am, 26th June 2008

What steps the Government are taking to improve the skills available to employees of small businesses.

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Photo of David Lammy David Lammy Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills) (Skills)

Through the Train to Gain service, employers can access support to help them identify and address their skills needs at all levels, including Government funding to sit alongside their own investment. Employers with fewer than 50 employees can access compensation to help them meet the wage costs of their employees while they train.

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Photo of Madeleine Moon Madeleine Moon PPS (Jim Knight, Minister of State), Department for Children, Schools and Families

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Some 57,000 people across the county borough of Bridgend are employed in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises with a work force of between one and nine. Does my hon. Friend agree that not only apprentices and the youth but the older work force need ongoing education and skills training? Does he agree that providing that skills training for the older work force will allow small companies in my constituency to stay ahead in the global economy?

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Photo of David Lammy David Lammy Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills) (Skills)

My hon. Friend is completely right, and she cuts to the heart of the matter. That was the basis of the Leitch review. We have done a number of things since then. First, we have ensured that small and micro businesses can access an increase in budget from £4 million to £30 million of leadership and management money to ensure that the owners of small businesses can match-fund and get access to courses. The union learning fund is making a huge difference, of course, providing skills for life and basic literacy and numeracy for many people who did not receive that training before. Indeed, it is important that the compensation is there to incentivise those with very small businesses to engage in Train to Gain. That suite of measures will help older employees in her constituency. I must say, too, that even though we tend to talk about apprenticeships in relation to young people, we have seen increases in adult apprenticeships over the past few years, and we are set to see more.

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