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Firms ‘risk reputational damage’ over apprentice schemes

Travel firms risk having their reputations trashed on social media if they fail to ensure their apprenticeship schemes are up to scratch.

Employers are expected to take the lead in devising their own schemes when a government levy on firms in England with annual wage bills above £3 million comes into force next April to fund apprenticeship places.

Liz Deakin, City & Guilds business development director for employer services, told an Abta seminar on apprenticeships that “quality assurance has to be at the heart of everything”.

“Ensure they [apprentices] have good experiences because they will tweet about it and post on Snapchat, and that reflects on your brand,” she said. “They’ll be on social media before you know it. You must get the quality right before it damages your brand.”

Deakin said it is vital firms do not “set up apprentices to fail”, so they should get their recruitment and assessment processes right, and provide adequate support. She said there is concern the new levy could see graduate programmes axed as firms prioritise using funding to develop existing staff.

However, she suggested companies could establish graduate apprenticeships to appeal to school-leavers who want to learn on the job and avoid the debt of going to university.

Andy Smyth, Tui’s development manager for vocational training, said the levy should be seen as an opportunity although it is a new tax on business.

“It’s important we all get into this for the right reasons,” he said. “Like it or not, we are being dragged kicking and screaming to fund training programmes.

“It is forcing us to take the issue seriously. We are being given more say in what training looks like, but we have to pay for it.”

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