SMEs could provide 1 million more apprenticeships

A recent report from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has shown that given the right information and support, SMEs could be creating over 1 million apprenticeship opportunities.

The report, entitled ‘Make or Break; Getting apprenticeship reform right for small businesses’ showed that 23% of FSB members already hire apprentices in their business with 24% stating they would consider hiring one in the future.  If this feeling is replicated across the remaining 4.7 million SMEs in the UK, this could supply more than 1 million apprenticeships.

This would have a significant impact on the government target to reach 3 million apprenticeships by 2020, however the report also highlighted concerns businesses have that would hinder them from hiring an apprentice.  31% of businesses surveyed are anxious about the day to day management of an apprentice and a further 26% say they lack the time to devote to an apprentices’ training.

There needs to be reforms to overcome these concerns, including more information to understand how apprenticeships work and how to go about finding the right talent for the business needs.  Explanation also needs to be given about the benefits; for those employers worried about the amount of time training an apprentice would need this would be a good opportunity to find an existing member of the team to become a mentor, not only accessing the benefits of hiring an apprentice but also improving retention and loyalty from existing employees.

The FSB has suggested three main ways of encouraging and raising awareness amongst SMEs; more targeted and localised information for businesses, as well as specific and practical guidance on how a smaller company can take on an apprentice.  This could be achieved through a specific SME-focussed web portal and through more involvement from SME owners in shaping apprenticeship policy.  The FSB has gone on to suggest a group be formed of 100 small businesses to critique and contribute towards policy.

The third recommendation is to introduce a more generous package of incentives and support for employers who hire an apprentice.  The cost of training is one of the barriers, despite this report showing that 37% of businesses praised apprenticeships for being a cost effective way of recruiting and filling skills gaps.

Apprenticeships are under the spotlight currently with delayed details on the apprenticeship levy due to be announced today.  There have been calls from organisations and employers to postpone the implementation of the apprenticeship levy, which is due to be launched from April 2017.

If you’re an employer considering hiring an apprentice but unsure of the process, you can contact Aspire Training Team on 01202 551553 or email  We’re an Outstanding Ofsted training provider working with employers across the South to find business administration apprentices, childcare apprentices and health & social care apprentices, as well as training in Team Leading and Management.

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