CBI outlines next stage of apprenticeship reform

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has published a report outlining the next steps that must be taken in order to successfully reform the UK’s apprenticeship system.

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The report suggests that the government should give the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA), the principal body for vocational skills in England, the ‘independence and clout it needs’ in order to reform the UK’s apprenticeship system.

According to the CBI, the IfA must ‘speed up the apprenticeship standards approval process’ so that businesses can start using them, and outline how T-levels and higher T-levels will fit in the skills system.

The business group has also called for the government to give employers ‘longer to spend their money where apprenticeship standards remain in development’.

John Cope, Head of Education and Skills Policy at the CBI, commented: ‘This business-backed blueprint needs to be taken seriously to make sure the English skills system supports, rather than frustrates, employers, offering a first step to people in their career.

‘This must include giving the IfA the independence and clout it needs to create a world-class skills system in England.’

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Business groups respond to outcome of vote on Brexit deal

Business groups have responded to the outcome of the vote on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

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The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) warned that ‘no deal’ is ‘hurtling closer’. Carolyn Fairbairn, Director General of the CBI, said: ‘A new plan is needed immediately. This is now a time for our politicians to make history as leaders. All MPs need to reflect on the need for compromise, and to act at speed to protect the UK’s economy.’

Meanwhile, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) urged MPs to ‘work together to end the Brexit impasse’. ‘The UK is due to leave the EU in just ten weeks, and yet businesses still have no idea what kind of circumstances they should prepare for,’ said Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the FSB.

‘Many small businesses would be adversely impacted by a chaotic no deal exit. It is vital that there is a transition period, to give smaller firms time to adapt to whatever the final outcome turns out to be.’

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) stated that businesses now find themselves ‘facing the unwelcome prospect of a messy and disorderly exit from the EU’ on 29 March. It continued: ‘The overriding priority for both government and Parliament must now be to avoid the clear danger that a no deal exit on 29 March would pose to businesses and communities across the UK.’

Many firms ‘actively tackling’ gender pay gap, survey suggests

A survey carried out by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has suggested that 93% of UK firms are ‘actively tackling’ their gender pay gap.

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The survey of 350 businesses revealed that 60% of firms believe that diversity helps them to attract and retain staff, and a further 50% said it has brought new skills and capabilities into their workforce.

According to the survey, 50% of respondents are seeking to improve gender diversity in ‘all levels’ of their business.

Commenting on the CBI’s findings, Ben Willmott, Head of Public Policy at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), said: ‘For the most part, employers are focusing on improving progression opportunities and on workplace diversity, which are positive steps. But there’s scope to go further, particularly on improving the gender balance in senior roles.’

As part of the second round of gender pay gap reporting, businesses and organisations are required to provide information on their gender pay gap by specific deadlines. Public sector organisations must publish and submit their data to the government by 30 March 2019, whilst businesses and charities must publish and submit by 4 April 2019.

UK ‘not where it should be’ in regard to Brexit, leading business groups warn

Five of the leading business groups in the UK have warned MPs that the UK is ‘not where it should be’ in regard to its Brexit plans.Image result for UK 'not where it should be' in regard to Brexit, leading business groups warnImage result for UK 'not where it should be' in regard to Brexit, leading business groups warn

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The government recently confirmed that it has decided to prioritise preparing for a ‘no deal’ Brexit, and intends to advise UK businesses to begin implementing their contingency plans.

In a joint letter, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the Institute of Directors (IoD), the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and manufacturers’ organisation the EEF stated that UK firms have been ‘watching in horror’ as politicians have focused on ‘factional disputes’ rather than the practical steps that need to be taken to secure an advantageous Brexit deal.

The letter also said that firms are ‘pausing or diverting investment’ in order to prepare for a potential no deal Brexit scenario.

The business groups believe that there is ‘not enough time’ to prevent the ‘severe dislocation and disruption’ that will come hand-in-hand with a no deal Brexit scenario. They have called for MPs to ‘talk to their local business communities’ over the festive break in order to help ‘find a way forward’ when they return to Parliament.

Business groups react to Brexit deal vote delay

Business groups have responded to the postponing of the vote on the draft Brexit deal.

Prime Minister Theresa May intends to meet EU officials and European leaders in order to ‘discuss with them the clear concerns’ MPs have in regard to the deal.

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The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said that the delay is ‘yet another blow’ for businesses seeking clarity. Carolyn Fairbairn, Director General of the CBI, said: ‘Investment plans have been paused for two and a half years. Unless a deal is agreed quickly, the country risks sliding towards a national crisis.’

Meanwhile, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) stated that business is ‘intensely frustrated’ by the delay. Dr Adam Marshall, its Director General, commented: ‘Businesses are clear that time is rapidly running out. With just over 100 days to go until 29 March, many are already enacting contingency plans in the absence of clarity from Westminster.

‘Businesses need clarity and precision on the UK’s future relationship with the EU and with other key trading partners. Businesses are clear that they do not want a messy and disorderly exit, which both government and far too many firms are under prepared for.’

The Institute of Directors (IoD) called for the government to be ‘clearer’ on its contingency plans. Stephen Martin, Director General of the IoD, said: ‘Many companies are still in the dark about what HMRC and border agencies would require the day after Brexit if there is no transition period. Partly because of a lack of information, only 14% of IoD members say they are fully prepared to manage no deal, highlighting the scale of the challenge if a withdrawal agreement isn’t ratified.’

Business groups react to draft Brexit deal

Business groups have reacted to the government’s draft Brexit deal with the EU.

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Following a five-hour debate on the matter, Prime Minister Theresa May secured her Cabinet’s backing for the deal. However, a handful of MPs have resigned following the agreement, with some stating that they cannot support the draft deal, including Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office, Shailesh Vara, and Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab.

Commenting on the deal, Carolyn Fairbairn, Director General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said: ‘The UK has had many months of discussion and division. A long journey still lies ahead, but now is the time for decisions. And the first decision is to avoid no deal.’

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said that the deal is a ‘welcome step back’ from the ‘no deal cliff edge’. Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the FSB, commented: ‘Many small businesses will be relieved to finally see some progress being made.

‘If this deal passes Parliament, small businesses will be given the security of a transition period which will allow them to carry on operating as they do now from 29 March 2019 until at least the end of 2020.’

Meanwhile, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) stated that firms need ‘clarity and precision’ on the terms of trade. Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the BCC, said: ‘Businesses will be looking carefully and deliberately at the real-world implications of this agreement over the coming days, and expect their elected representatives to do the same.’

Providing nothing ‘extraordinary’ happens, the EU will hold an ’emergency’ summit on 25 November, in order to ‘finalise and formalise’ the deal.

Businesses ‘frustrated by lack of progress in Brexit talks’

A survey carried out by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has suggested that ‘patience is now threadbare’ amongst UK businesses in regard to the government’s progress in its Brexit negotiations with the EU.

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Businesses report that the lack of progress is having an adverse effect on many of their business decisions.

The survey revealed that 80% of firms believe that Brexit uncertainty is having a ‘negative impact’ on their investment decisions. The majority of businesses polled stated that they may have to implement ‘damaging’ contingency plans if no further progress is made by December.

Firms’ contingency plans include altering supply chains outside the UK; cutting jobs; relocating production and services overseas; and stockpiling goods.

Carolyn Fairbairn, Director General of the CBI, said: ‘The situation is now urgent. The speed of negotiations is being outpaced by the reality firms are facing on the ground.

‘Unless a Withdrawal Agreement is locked down by December, firms will press the button on their contingency plans. Jobs will be lost and supply chains moved.

‘As long as ‘no deal’ remains a possibility, the effect is corrosive for the UK economy, jobs and communities.’