Kirklees SMEs embrace apprenticeships for growth

Small businesses in Kirklees have embraced apprenticeships, with almost 200 positions created in the last 12 months.

Kirklees Apprenticeship Hub said 174 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) worked with its Business Brokers in the year to September, resulting in 190 apprenticeships.

The hub, which is supported by Kirklees Council, aims to support small businesses in adding apprentices to their workforce, by providing practical guidance and helping them to identify their needs.

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Kirklees Council’s Cllr Peter McBride said apprenticeships are a great way of supporting small businesses, which “are key to the economy of Kirklees”, to grow.

Robin Hood Watersports, based in Heckmondwicke, boosted its team of 28 by hiring 16-year-old apprentice Ben Parker earlier this year, with help from Kirklees Apprenticeship Hub.

Sally Findlow, partner at the specialist company that makes and sells watersports equipment to business, public and emergency service customers, said hiring an apprentice and bringing skills into the business was “vital” to its future.

She said: “It means our apprentice, Ben, can learn a range of skills that will benefit his role at Robin Hood Watersports.

“He will end up with a qualification, which is great news for him and also for his long-term future with us.”

Mr Parker said the apprenticehip has allowed him to be “hands-on and learning every day”.

“I’m not the sort of person who wants to sit at a desk all day and this role gives me the opportunity to keep learning,” he added.

Earlier this week, business secretary Vince Cable announced an increase in the minimum wage for 16 and 17-year-old apprentices, from £2.73 to £3.79.

The change, which aims to boost the number of youngsters entering the scheme, is expected to affect 31,000 apprentices.