SMEs would rather hire apprentices than grads, research finds

According to research from business development consultancy Sandler Training, three out of four small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) believe that a degree is now worth less than it was 10 years ago when it comes to getting a job.

The survey of 1,000 SMEs found that academic qualifications are losing out to practical skills, as SMEs prefer to hire apprentices with “hard skills” over university graduates. In five years’ time SMEs said they would be hiring 20% more apprentices, compared with only a 7% increase in graduates.

Shaun Thomson, chief executive of Sandler Training UK, said: “Following the economic downturn it really has been an employer’s market. Employers have been far more focused on what skills new recruits can bring to the table. This is especially true with small businesses, when a poor recruit can have a bigger impact. Unfortunately this onus on skills has been on ‘hard skills’ – which is why we believe the value of a degree is falling.”