Reference number: PR12032013 Federation of Small Businesses FSB Wales welcomes Welsh Government announcement on Apprenticeships FSB Wales has welcomed the announcement today by the Deputy Minister for Skills that more than five and a half thousand additional apprenticeships will be created over the next two years. Skills are critical to economic development and apprenticeships are an excellent way of training people in the skills sets that businesses need to develop and grow. In a recent survey of FSB members, many said that difficulty in recruiting apprentices was a barrier to success. Just over a third said that a wage subsidy would be an incentive to take on an apprenticeship, and 16 per cent said that having an organisation to handle the administration of recruitment would be an added incentive. The Welsh Government's announcement, based on a draft budget agreement with Plaid Cymru for an additional £40 million to be spent on apprenticeships over the next two years, goes a long way to meet these aspirations. The enhanced wage subsidy of £3,900 for employers taking on young apprentices, plus the one-off payment of £500 to assist with the administration costs meet the specific problems businesses face in taking on new apprentices. Welsh Policy Unit Chair for the Federation of Small Businesses, Janet Jones, said: "As the Deputy Minister acknowledged in his statement, he has listened to the concerns of small businesses voiced by FSB Wales and has come forward with practical solutions to help businesses in Wales take on more apprentices. We welcome also his commitment to continue to engage with stakeholders like ourselves to identify other barriers associated with the recruitment of apprentices. "Too few of our small and medium-sized businesses have taken on apprentices in the past and we are committed to increasing that number with the support of government. "We also take note of the lobbying work done by Plaid Cymru in raising this issue in their budget discussions, and the inquiry of the Enterprise and Business Committee – which we fed into – which drew attention to the fact that the full potential of apprenticeships in supporting the Welsh economy remained unrealised. "We at FSB Wales can feel satisfied that our campaigning on this important issue has borne fruit." ENDS Notes to editors: The FSB is the UK's leading business organisation with around 200,000 members, 10,000 of whom are in Wales. It exists to protect and promote the interests of the UK''s Real-Life Entrepreneurs who run their own business. More information is available at www.fsb.org.uk/wales.