Apprentices crucial to SME survival, yet only 20% have plans to hire

According to a new poll from YouGov, commissioned by the 5% club, apprentices are crucial to the survival of UK’s small businesses, yet only 20% have plans to hire more apprentices or graduates in the next year.

Additionally, a report from venture capitalists Albion Ventures, which looked at 450 SMEs with a combined turnover of over £1.6bn, found that almost one in four SMEs are looking to develop apprenticeship schemes to deliver the necessary skills in their business, yet only 12% have a scheme in place already.

So why do only 20% of businesses have plans to hire apprentices? In the YouGov poll, 30% of those surveyed said they lack the funds, 37% said that young people are unaware of the opportunities available to them and 44% think that graduates and apprentices prefer to work for big businesses.

Leo Quinn, chief executive of QinetiQ Group, and one of the founders of The 5% Club, said: “This survey shows clearly that our pool of SMEs in the UK present a great opportunity to do more in tackling both youth unemployment and our national skills shortage.”

Neil Carberry, of the CBI, said: “By allowing people to take their first steps on the career ladder and others to move up it, more apprenticeships can help move us towards growth that benefits everyone. No one knows better than businesses on the ground exactly what skills they need, so it’s important they are given the power to demand that, rather than rely on the Government to call the tune.”

Ben Rowland, co-founder of Arch, the specialist IT and Digital apprenticeship provider commented: “Many of the employers who take on Arch Apprentices are SMEs.  They have benefited hugely from adding to their capacity in this way and the young people they take on as apprentices get a really rich and diverse experience.  The programme works just as well for the smaller firms as it does for the big ones like Google and Barclays.”