SMEs In London 'Should Offer More Apprenticeships'

Ofsted Calls On SMEs To Provide Training Opportunities


SMEs in London should coordinate their efforts to create new apprenticeships and help young people to get valuable work experience, the schools inspector has said.

Ofsted's report, Engaging Small and Medium Enterprises in Work Experience and Apprenticeships in London, found that training providers experience difficulty in encouraging the capital's small firms to provide apprenticeships for learners.

SMEs said time constraints and a lack of staff availability were barriers to offering these opportunities. Some also said that while work experience is valuable to learners, offering it can be a hindrance to their business.

Concerns were also raised about the level of red tape involved with the apprenticeship recruiting process. However, SMEs did report that they had strong relationships with training providers that had helped to create new opportunities for young people.

"Ofsted found that many training providers use work experience as a way of introducing a potential apprentice to an employer," said Marina Gaze, Deputy Director for Further Education and Skills at Ofsted.

"Making sure that there are sufficient work experience and apprenticeship placements must be a priority for the government, businesses and providers."

Expert Opinion
Small businesses have been regularly referred to in recent times as the lifeblood of the economy, but they also play an important role when it comes to nurturing and developing high quality, skilled talent.

"The result of this study follows a YouGov survey at the end of last year which showed 74 per cent of SMEs believe employing apprentices and graduates is beneficial to their survival. However, that study also highlighted that only a quarter of small firms intended to take such recruits on.

"SMEs must remember that hiring younger people can offer many benefits, including helping them to develop workers to meet their needs. In addition, those fresh out of university or education in general may have the creative speak which will help to grow an organisation."
Fergal Dowling, Partner