Grow your business – with apprenticeships!

Jason Holt, CEO of Holts the Jewellers, founder of the Academy of Jewellery and past participant of a programme we ran in 2010, is one of the UK’s leading experts on apprenticeships.  Having built a business providing training for the next generation of UK jewellery designers and manufacturers, Jason was invited by Business Secretary, Vince Cable, and Education Secretary, Michael Gove, to advise the Government on how it can encourage smaller businesses across the UK to take on more apprentices.

When the former lawyer took control of his family business, in 1999, he saw an industry in decline.  While Hatton Garden had begun to build a name for high-quality and low-volume specialists, the whole UK jewellery industry was facing a skills shortage – with no one in the UK providing any formal professional training.

Holt’s response puzzled staff and competitors alike – he turned his company’s informal training scheme into an accredited programme that could help provide skills for the entire industry.  Thus, Holts Academy of Jewellery was born.  The not-for-profit operation now trains 1,000 jewellery designers and manufacturers each year across three London sites.

So, he was perfectly placed to advise on how to encourage smaller businesses to make more use of apprenticeships.  And his conclusions are stark.

“Not enough smaller businesses are taking advantage of the undoubted growth opportunities offered by apprenticeships.  This is because they have an outdated view of apprenticeships, are often in the dark, and frequently do not receive the specific training provision their apprentices need.  Many small companies I’ve spoken to don’t know how to go about hiring an apprentice, others don’t even know what an apprenticeship is. The lack of knowledge is disappointing and shows how big a challenge this is.”

Jason has put forward a series of recommendations which have been welcomed by Government ministers and will now be implemented.  These include

  • A raft of measures to raise awareness of apprenticeships
  • The provision of 40,000 Apprenticeship Grants for Employers
  • Improving the quality of training provision.

Read more, and find out how you could grow your business with apprentices at

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