'No apprentice' despite three-year search, says florist
A Shropshire businesswoman says she cannot find an apprentice after a three-year search.
Jan Park, who owns Blue Florists in Shifnal and Shrewsbury, said she could not find a nearby college offering a course that florists could study on as part of an apprenticeship.
She said it would be "almost impossible" for her to afford a wage and the college fees to train someone.
The National Apprenticeship Service said it was a "niche" apprenticeship.
Government figures show that about one million 16 to 24-year-olds are now looking for work, the highest number since records began in 1992.
There are currently 500,000 people registered on an apprenticeship in the UK, with almost 3,500 in Shropshire, the National Apprenticeship Service said.
But coverage for all apprenticeships "unfortunately isn't everywhere", the spokesman added.
The government is offering small businesses a grant of £1,500 to take on an apprentice.
But Ms Park said: "From my inquiries to date, it does not look like we get funding from the government.
"I don't know why but it doesn't seem to be covering floristry apprenticeships and in terms of courses we are having difficulty finding a course that florists can study on as part of an apprenticeship.
"The government is heavily advertising at the moment about providing opportunities to train with apprentices which is brilliant training for them.
"It gives them a qualification at the end and work experience but there does not seem to be joined-up thinking around it.
"If I can't find a college that offers an apprenticeship I have to pay for a student to go to college, then that becomes almost impossible financially for us to do that."
Conservative MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham Daniel Kawczynski said he would write to Business Secretary Vince Cable for clarification and to highlight the case.
"Small businesses are doing extremely well... and I would encourage every business in Shropshire to take on an apprentice.
"If you are a small business struggling, as Ms Park clearly is, then get in touch with me."