by Trevor Sturgess
Small businesses have been urged to take on more apprentices and graduate interns after an £8m pledge by the Prime Minister.
The deal will offer hope to talented young people finding it increasingly hard to enter the jobs market, either as an apprentice or after graduation.
The Federation of Small Businesses has been campaigning for extra support for firms wishing to recruit skilled people and welcomed the decision.
On Tuesday Gordon Brown said the Government would inject a further £8m into the scheme.
Businesses will receive £100 per week towards wage costs, with universities asked to work closely with small businesses.
The Kent and Medway FSB already has arrangements in place with local universities.
It signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Canterbury Christ Church University and is in regular contact with the University of Kent.
The FSB claims that small businesses are central to economic recovery becaue they are responsible for 84 per cent of all new jobs created since 2002. They also provide 69 per cent of apprenticeships and are major players in innovation.
Roger House, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses in Kent and Medway, said: “Small firms are the country’s job creators – central to our economic recovery – and more than half have said they would employ more staff if they were given the right support.
“The Government’s pledge to set up 10,000 skilled internships is a real victory for the FSB and a victory for small businesses across the county.
“This will help those graduates leaving university at a time when the job market is sluggish at best – they will get real work experience and develop real skills.
“And small firms will benefit from the skills of this workforce, which they traditionally find harder to recruit. Research from previous schemes shows that one in four graduates are also offered full-time employment in the business at the end of their placement.”
The FSB is encouraging its members to link up with university careers services and notify them of suitable placements.