Smaller businesses would choose apprentices over graduates according to new study

Smaller businesses would choose apprentices over graduates according to new study

The AAT have discovered that nearly all small businesses surveyed have found apprentices valuable

Small businesses in the UK are embracing apprenticeships, with 97% saying that taking on apprentices has been good value for money.

The study, which was carried out by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) in celebration of National Apprenticeship Week, shows that nine out of ten businesses feel apprenticeships have boosted their overall productivity.

Apprentices have significant long-term impacts on these businesses, with 83% of those surveyed saying that apprentices have added value to their business within six months of taking them on, and 63% agreeing that taking on apprentices provides them with staff who are more suited to their businesses.

Comparing apprenticeships with university, 57% of those who have taken on apprentices said this is the best way into their business’ industry, while 18% said a degree is the best.

Over half (55%) of employers prefer to recruit apprentices, with 32% preferring to employ graduates.

Attitudes towards apprenticeships are changing. They are growing in popularity among businesses, with over three quarters of those surveyed saying that the number of apprentices they have taken on in the last five years has grown.

The average number of apprentices taken on each year in these small businesses is three, with 19% saying they take on five or more annually.

Apprentices are hired in a multitude of ways, with 30% of businesses hiring one from a government website and 24% employing from a registered training organisation.

Almost one fifth (19%) of companies hired apprentices from their local Further Education college or training provider, and the same percentage got a word of mouth recommendation.

What about the Apprenticeship Levy?

Out of those who have taken on apprentices, 45% say they have already accessed available funds from the Apprenticeship Levy to help them train a new employee, and 36% have used it to train an existing employee.

For 21% of businesses, these funds will be accessed in the next year, and 10% say they will use them in the next few years.

Only 2% said they are unlikely to access the levy funds at all, and 6% did not know that funds from the levy were available for their business.

The majority of apprentices in these businesses are offered the chance to forge long-term careers with the company.

Out of the businesses who have taken on apprentices, 61% say they have offered to keep apprentices on after the scheme is finished and 21% say they have offered to keep on every apprentice they have ever hired.

Not all businesses are on board with the idea of apprenticeships. Out of those businesses who have never taken one on, 39% say they feel there are still barriers holding them back from hiring one.

Reasons for this reluctance include the cost of starting an apprenticeship, the belief that getting funding is too complicated, and just not knowing how to start a scheme.

Despite this, the majority of the group who said they had never hired an apprentice said that they are planning to take some on in the future.

Rob Alder, head of business development at AAT said: “Although there have been some negative comments on the impact of the Government’s apprenticeships reforms, our research shows that there are still many positives in training an apprentice and it is good to see that reflected in the SME market.

“Our research shows that England’s small businesses hugely endorse apprentices within their own firms and value the benefits apprentices can bring to them. Those who have taken on apprentices are happy with them, and even those who haven’t yet taken any on are making plans to do so.”

“However, the fact that there are some who still feel that there are barriers to them taking on apprentices, and who are having problems with costs and understanding the system, shows that more still needs to be done to raise awareness and help smaller businesses especially.”

Sue Husband, director of the National Apprenticeship Service says: “We wholeheartedly believe that apprenticeships work – not just for apprentices themselves, but businesses of all shapes and sizes, across all industries, sectors and job roles, and for people of all ages.”

She added: “AAT’s research demonstrates the positive impact that apprenticeships have on small businesses in England. For people considering their first – or next – career, an apprenticeship can equip you with the skills and on-the-job training that you will require, while we hope other company owners will consider how taking on apprentices can boost their business.”

 

 

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