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Dear Prime Minister: APS campaigns on apprenticeships

10 June 2020  
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Full text of letter from Andrew Hough, CEO, Association of Professional Sales to the Prime Minister

To: The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP Prime Minister 10 Downing Street London SW1A 2AA

Tuesday 9 June 2020

Dear Prime Minister,

I am writing as the CEO of the Association of Professional Sales (APS) to support your 3 June proposal for a guaranteed apprenticeship for every young person who needs one.

Expanding apprenticeships, especially those leading to qualifications, will inject business skills into the economy and help to drive the UK out of recession. We would urge you to make good on your promise with a financial commitment to help employers offer apprenticeships across the UK.

As the non-profit, professional body for the sales industry, we have a particular interest in encouraging sales apprenticeships. An October 2019 inquiry report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Professional Sales, which we sponsor, identified sales apprenticeships as a vital way to increase the commercial capability of SMEs and boost UK productivity.

There is an acute shortage of modern, professional sales skills in SMEs, which account for 99% of British companies. Brexit is going to require UK firms to find new markets to sell products and services abroad. To take advantage of the opportunities presented by Brexit, it is important that Britain knows how to sell.

The APPG inquiry [1] heard evidence that while many SMEs are willing to take on apprentices, there are also obstacles that deter them. These include cost, extra bureaucracy, and a lack of expertise in managing trainees.

For these reasons, we urge you to commit funds for apprenticeships in the post-lockdown, economic stimulus package that the chancellor is due to announce in July. To give small businesses confidence to proceed, funding should be extended to include paying a percentage of apprentice wages - a point also made by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. In our view, this return to the government’s former model of financial support for apprenticeships need only be temporary; but with a recession about to bite, and many redundancies in prospect, there needs to be a financial incentive to convince businesses to invest in extra staff.

Apprenticeships contributed a gross productivity gain of £2.4bn to the UK economy in 2019-20, according to the CEBR; and they offer many other benefits. Social distancing measures have made it essential for businesses to sell online in order to survive, yet many SMEs are critically lacking in digital skills.[2] Hiring ‘digital natives’ will help them to adapt.

I am sure you know that other countries are supporting in-work training as a way out of recession, with France announcing a €1bn boost for apprenticeships on 4 June.

Please see the link below to the APPG report. We hope you will give consideration to the APS’s suggestions.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Hough CEO

1 APPG inquiry report, section 4

2 APPG inquiry report, section 6