New initiative encourages West Midlands SMEs to hire apprentices

West Midlands businesses are being asked to facilitate apprenticeships in the midst of a new initiative being launched as part of National Apprenticeship Week.

According to studies, 99% of all businesses in the UK are small businesses yet the proportion of them taking up apprenticeships is less than 10%, less than half that of larger companies.

An online peer-to-peer mentoring community has been developed to encourage greater take-up among the small business sector.

A lack of understanding about the potential routes to funding (64%), where to recruit an apprentice from (41%), how to support their long-term contribution to the business (33%) and how to ensure they deliver a return on investment (28%) were reasons given as to why employers struggle with recruiting an apprentice.

Apprenticemakers is intended to provide the opportunity for small businesses to connect with companies at various stages of the apprenticeship journey to share experiences, ask questions and be inspired about their future as an employer of apprentices

Developed by National Apprenticeship Service in conjunction with Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative (SFEDI), Apprenticemakers comes on the back of a Government-commissioned review looking at why there is such low take-up of apprentices across the SME sector.

The report author Jason Holt, chief excecutive of Holts Group of Companies concluded that more peer-to-peer support was needed if more small businesses were to take the plunge and employ apprentices.

Mr Holt said; “Despite SMEs making up almost all of the total number of businesses in the country, the proportion of take-up of apprenticeships is less than half that of larger companies. If we can break down some of the barriers and encourage more SMEs to look at taking on apprentices, the impact would be significant.

“Apprenticemakers enables those considering becoming an employer of apprentices to access independent advice and valuable peer-to-peer mentoring from individuals who are already committed to supporting apprenticeships within their own businesses.”