HR · 11 August 2016

Smaller employers hold key to government’s apprenticeships strategy

Small employers have the potential to double the number of apprentices they take on
Britain’s small businesses have the potential to double the number of apprentices they take on to over two million, a new report on apprenticeship reform has suggested.

The study, from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), found that one-in-four of the organisation’s member firms currently employ an apprentice, but that a further quarter would consider hiring one in future.

If the situation were reflected throughout the rest of the UK’s 4.7m smaller employers, there is the potential to deliver more than a million new apprenticeships, the FSB report Make of Break:getting apprenticeship reform right for small businesses? concluded.

Smaller employers can therefore be considered crucial to achieving the government’s planned target of reaching three million new apprenticeships by 2020.

Despite this potential, the report also identified some major challenges holding firms back from taking on more apprentices. Small business owners are often less able to contribute towards the cost of training an apprentice, for example.

The FSB encouraged government to focus on packages of support and the incentives it offered smaller employers better targeting the businesses that are least likely to be able to afford the upfront cost of taking on an apprentice.

we are at a make-or-break moment, said FSB national chairman Mike Cherry. While many small firms are committed to apprenticeships, many more continue to be worried about the time and personal commitment required.

Cherry went on to identify three areas in which the government needed to reform the apprenticeship system: Ministers need to focus on more targeted and localised information for businesses with high growth potential, specific and practical guidance on how a smaller company can take on an apprentice, and a more generous package of incentives and support for those which do, he said.

The report also demonstrated the reliability small firms have in providing a route to full-time employment for apprentices. Apprentices in roughly two-thirds of FSB-member businesses were offered a permanent role once theyd completed their training.



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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