200,000 apprentices are set to be recruited by SMEs in the next year

New projections reveal more than 200,000 apprentices are set to be recruited by SMEs in the next year.

New figures reveal that SMEs predict to recruit 202,000 new apprentices in the next 12 months.

The data shows that SMEs are keen to hire apprentices for both their enthusiasm as well as the business benefits that come with the ability to mould staff to suit employer needs and future proof the workforce.

It also highlights the many benefits that SME firms with apprentices have experienced. For example, more than 24,000 private sector SMEs reported that hiring an apprentice has actually helped them win business.

More widely, 74 per cent of SMEs that employ apprentices report increased productivity thanks to apprenticeships with product / service improvement and nearly all (96 per cent) report at least one business benefit to hiring an apprentice.

However, there is still more that needs to be done to ensure employers of all sizes gain the skills they need for their workforce. Almost three quarters of SMEs still remain to be convinced about the merits of taking on an apprentice.

Growing the quality and quantity of apprenticeships offered is also an essential part of the government’s newly published Industrial Strategy Green Paper. Skills is one of the key pillars of this plan, and a new offer on the area will be fundamental to driving increases in productivity across the country, improving social mobility and making a success of Brexit.

To address this, the government has today launched a new wave of its ‘Get In Go Far‘ campaign featuring four SMEs who describe the benefits of apprenticeships to their organisations. This is in advance of a new STEP funding offer becoming available to SMEs from 1st May 2017.

Apprenticeships and skills minister Robert Halfon says, ‘We know that apprenticeships give people of all ages and all backgrounds the skills they need to succeed. That is why more than 90 per cent of apprentices stay in employment after their scheme ends.

‘It’s fantastic to see so many SMEs are already taking advantage of the programme ensuring they get the workforce they require, but we must do more to encourage other SMEs to come on board and hire apprentices.

‘The Get In Go Far campaign, launching today, is key to both persuading more SMEs of the benefits of apprenticeships and inspiring more young people to climb the ladder of opportunity by becoming an apprentice.’

Oliver Mangham, applications director at Fairfield Control Systems, who himself started as an apprentice and who features in the new government SME apprenticeships campaign, comments, ‘As a small business we rely on a small team of highly-skilled workers. Good, well-rounded engineers are hard to come by and apprenticeships give us a competitive edge by providing the valuable opportunity to train young people the way we want them to be trained from the beginning!

‘Our industry requires a high level of innovation and our apprentices bring new ideas, a great spirit, and bundles of enthusiasm. After 17 years working with apprenticeships we know that continuing to invest in and develop local talent is essential to the continued success of our business.’

Mike Cherry, chair of the Federation of Small Business, has backed the new government campaign. He comments, ‘Taking on an apprentice makes good business sense. Small firms that do this provide young people with excellent practical on-the-job training, but also see a positive impact inside their own businesses.

‘FSB members are taking on more apprentices than ever before, and so more small firms and young people are now benefiting. I encourage all small businesses to think about how apprenticeships might work for them too.’

Further reading on apprentices

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the Smallbusiness.co.uk and Growthbusiness.co.uk titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the Express.co.uk.