News in brief: apprenticeships, manufacturing, finance

News in brief
News in brief

Motor industry calls on government to improve apprenticeships

Motor industry employers, including garages, dealerships and accident repair centres, have called on the Government to focus their efforts on the quality of training rather than the number of new apprenticeships available to help their businesses grow.

The businesses from all over the UK employ apprentices who have taken part in the IMI Skill Auto competition. The final takes place over the next three days at the NEC in Birmingham at Britain’s biggest careers event, the Skills Show. The competition showcases the world-class skills of quality automotive apprentices from an industry worth £152 billion per year.

Colin Hagan, Training Manager at Riverpark Training, said, “The industry needs a quality skill base to safely repair the diverse range of vehicles currently on our roads, which cannot be fixed with a numbers game. Government focus should only be on enlightening young people to the advantages of an apprenticeship as opposed to the university route, which doesn’t necessarily lead to full-time employment.”

Sajid Javid to speak at National Manufacturing Conference

The manufacturers' organisation EEF has announced that Business Secretary Sajid Javid will be speaking at the National Manufacturing Conference in London in February next year. He will be delivering a major address to the manufacturing sector.

The flagship annual event - sponsored by the UK's largest asset finance provider, Lombard - brings together leading politicians, senior industrialists and manufacturing companies from across the UK to discuss the critical challenges ahead for industry.

Key themes for 2016 include cracking Britain's productivity puzzle, unlocking the global trade challenge and the UK's future in the EU. As a keynote speaker, the Business Secretary will help to set the scene and spark debate.

Other high-profile speakers confirmed for the event include Baroness Karren Brady CBE, Vice Chair of West Ham Football Club and a familiar face from TV show The Apprentice, and Martin Wolf CBE, chief economics commentator at The Financial Times. The conference will be chaired by broadcaster Steph McGovern, a former engineer herself.

Research finds 56% of SMEs are unfamiliar with alternative finance

Recent research conducted by GLI Finance and Cambridge University Centre found that 80% of lending to SMEs is still provided by just four traditional UK banks and that 56% of the SMEs surveyed said they were unfamiliar with any forms of alternative finance.

Commenting on the research, partner at UK200Group member firm ReesRussell, Jonathan Russell, said: “The lack of understanding about small business has always been a problem and will probably continue to be so, as authorities and their advisors continue to think small businesses are just smaller versions of large businesses.

“The lack of affordable and accessible finance continues to be a problem and in particular those businesses which require larger amounts of working capital – more often the manufacturing businesses, which by tradition tend to be those in the north of the country.”

The majority of SMEs failing to use the internet to its fullest

Research by professional services marketplace has found that although 67% of sole traders and micro businesses want more work, a significant proportion are still failing to use the internet to best effect to help grow their business.

While 87% of businesses rely on word of mouth, most indicate that it simply isn’t enough and yet they appear to have been reluctant to innovate. Fewer than 50% of those surveyed have a website. Even fewer have embraced social media – just over a third say they have some kind of social media presence. Fewer than 20% of the 630 sole traders and micro entities surveyed have given online advertising a try.

According to founder of Sohrab Jahanbani: "In September 2015 alone there were over 180,000 Google searches for the types of professional services we offer at, so we know that there are customers actively looking for these small businesses online. If more than two-thirds of the businesses we spoke to want more work, it makes sense for them to turn to the internet to support this desired growth.”