Help small firms recruit younger workers, government told

Smaller businesses can play a vital role in reducing unemployment amongst young people, provided they are given support by the government.

The message has come from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

The organisation said it believes that the government must ensure small businesses have the necessary backup to take on more graduate interns and apprentices, and to help bring the economy out of recession.

Specifically, the FSB wants to see £3 million, of an existing £32 million pot of money, earmarked for promoting graduate internships and creating an extra 5,000 placements.

Apprentices should be paid a national minimum wage of £123 per week.

The 1990s Enterprise Allowance Scheme should be re-introduced to give those with entrepreneurial skills who have been made unemployed the chance to become self-employed.

And, finally, in order to avoid further job losses and to allow employers to hold on to valuable staff, there should be a wage-subsidy for workers who have had their hours cut.

John Wright, the FSB’s national chairman, said: “Seven in ten of all apprenticeships already happen in small businesses, and around 20 per cent would take on a graduate intern. Investing money in these areas will not only help small firms grow at a difficult time, but will ensure that the future workers and entrepreneurs are equipped with the skills they need."

Mr Wright added: “Self-employment must also be a real option for those that have lost their jobs. Re-introducing the Enterprise Allowance Scheme could create an extra 36,000 jobs over the next year. Research shows that small firms grow faster than larger businesses, creating more employment opportunities for the future.

“Small firms truly are the backbone of our economy and are ready to do their bit to help stimulate the economy, get people back into work and get the country back into recovery.”