Apprentices 'Crucial' To SME Survival

74 Per Cent Of SMEs Believe Taking On Apprentices Is Important


Steven Beahan, Partner | +44 (0)114 294 7868

Some 74 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK believe that employing apprentices and graduates is beneficial to their survival, according to a new report.

The 5 Per Cent Club - which works to provide opportunities for young people and their talents - has released the results of a new survey it carried out in conjunction with YouGov to coincide with its first anniversary.

It questioned a number of small businesses in Britain to find out their views on taking on young workers, finding that the lion's share support the idea of recruiting individuals who may not necessarily be the most experienced, but that they can train up to their own standards.

Of the respondents, 40 per cent acknowledged that taking on staff who were fresh out of school or university could help to set them up for their future career, alongside providing benefits to their business.

However, several barriers were identified with regard to taking on young employees, with 30 per cent reporting cash flow issues in relation to this and 22 per cent stating such candidates often lacked the right skills for the role or did not meet job specification criteria.

In a bid to resolve this, 62 per cent of SMEs suggested improved careers guidance should be given in schools to educate students about how to gain coveted skills, while 59 per cent of respondents believe greater communication is needed between colleges and businesses.

The 5 Per Cent Club stated: "Alongside the respondents' understanding that better communication could help encourage young recruits means that there is obviously a certain level of disconnect between young people and SMEs that needs to be addressed. Yet there remains a reluctance to actually become part of the upskilling of young people."

Responses showed that 74 per cent of small businesses said they were unlikely to increase their recruitment of apprentices or graduates over the next 12 months.

Expert Opinion
It is interesting to note that while many SMEs believe employing apprentices and graduates could offer huge benefits in terms of their survival or development, only around a quarter of small businesses intend to take on such new recruits in the coming year.

"This disconnect is significant and it will be interesting to see how trends develop going forward. Ultimately, SMEs should recognise that hiring younger people can offer a range of benefits, particularly as it allows them to develop workers to their specific requirements and those fresh out of university or school may have new creative ideas to help grow an organisation.

"As with any business-related issue, it is of course vital for SMEs to speak to legal advisors regarding their recruitment policies and strategies – with the ultimate aim of ensuring that they comply with their key regulatory requirements."
Steven Beahan, Partner