HR · 15 March 2016

Apprentices seen as increasingly vital to small business growth

Apprentices are increasingly popular in the manufacturing sector
Hiring apprentices is increasingly seen by owners as one of the most important parts of growing small businesses, according to new research.

An independent study from the Skills Funding Agency has found that eight in ten managers value apprenticeships above other means of growing a small business, such as access to finance.

Marking National Apprenticeship Week 2016, which runs from 14 to 18 March, the research also found that small business owners hiring apprentices were five times more likely to believe the company would expand rapidly than those that do not.

Furthermore, 61 per cent of fast-growing small firm managers agreed that hiring the correct staff or having employees with the rights skills was the most important factor in realising a company’s ambitions.

Small business bodies have been quick to encourage owners to consider hiring apprentices and have been outspoken in terms of support for National Apprenticeship Week. Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) policy director Mike Cherry said: High quality apprenticeships are vital to the future of British business, and they are a fantastic way to enable people to gain the skills they need to succeed.

we hope this year’s National Apprenticeship Week will lead to more businesses considering taking on an apprentice, and more young people seeking apprenticeships. We know thatif a business has a positive experience when taking on their first apprentice, they are much more likely to take on another in the future, added Cherry.

In December last year, the government published its 2020 vision for apprenticeships yet many of Britain’s small firm owners remain concerned about the impact apprentices would have on their business. It is hoped that changes to the apprenticeship grant for employers (AGE) providing additional funding for smaller employers will alleviate some of the worry.

Cherry went on to say: We don’t want a situation where businesses that could take on an apprentice are put off due to the uncertainty of what they will need to do or because they find the process too complicated.

the government needs to make sure businesses are clear on responsibilities when taking on an apprentice and how the funding of apprenticeship training will work in the future. There’s been a great deal of change surrounding the rules and funding framework in the past year.



Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

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