UK economy could receive £1.5bn boost if barriers to SMEs offering apprenticeships were lifted

UK economy could receive £1.5bn boost if barriers to SMEs offering apprenticeships were lifted

UK economy could receive £1.5bn boost if barriers to SMEs offering apprenticeships were lifted

The FINANCIAL -- One in eight (13%) young people close to leaving secondary school say they will look for an apprenticeship when they leave education, according to research from LifeSkills, created with Barclays.

The FINANCIAL -- One in eight (13%) young people close to leaving secondary school say they will look for an apprenticeship when they leave education, according to research from LifeSkills, created with Barclays. If these young people were successful, they have the potential to boost the economy by £1.5 billion every year. But, currently two thirds of SMEs, which account for 99% of all businesses in the UK and employ 24.3 million people, say they can’t offer apprenticeships, with one in ten blaming the red tape and costs associated with setting up.

One in eight (13%) young people (14-15 year olds) want an apprenticeship which could generate £1.5 billion for UK economy
Currently two thirds (64%) of SMEs say they aren’t able to offer an apprenticeship
One in ten SME employers cite red tape and costs for not offering an apprenticeship (10% and 11% respectively)

The research from LifeSkills surveyed HR decision makers in SMEs across the UK about their attitudes towards work experience and apprenticeships. Encouragingly, it found that nearly eight in ten (77%) SMEs would like to hire young people who have completed work experience or an apprenticeship, showing an appetite for work ready candidates. However, the research also demonstrated the troubles SMEs say they face in offering these schemes. These perceptions persist despite positive measures to alleviate them such as funding for businesses that offer these programmes, according to Barclays.


Research shows the top five barriers SMEs say they face in offering apprenticeships and work experience:

 

Likely cost to the business
Red tape internally around setting up a programme
Lack of internal team resource to set up and manage a programme
Not relevant to my business
Unable to find suitable candidates

While two thirds of SMEs say they are struggling to offer apprenticeships or work experience, HR decision makers do consider young people who have completed such pre-employment training as highly attractive employees. Two thirds (67%) said it made candidates keen to learn and develop professionally. A third (35%) stated employees with such experience were happy to contribute to the business beyond their role and half (50%) said they made the young person ambitious, according to Barclays.


Research shows the top five attributes businesses associate with young people who have completed work experience or apprenticeships:

Keen to learn and develop professionally – 67%
Ambitious for their career – 50%
Happy to contribute to the business beyond their direct role – 35%
Engaged with the business – 31%
Appreciation of how a business is structured and run – 27%

“SMEs are the UK’s life blood when it comes to offering employment, but this research shows that they still perceive barriers to be able to offer on the job training or to help young people be work-ready. Not only does it create a skills gap that holds back a generation from realising their potential but also means a potential productivity gain of over £1.5 billion to the UK economy goes untapped," Kirstie Mackey, Head of LifeSkills at Barclays said.

 

“Businesses need support to connect with education providers and young people to offer the quality pre-employment learning opportunities that are so desperately needed. It’s why we launched LifeSkills, to connect young people to businesses that wish to offer work experience or apprenticeships but also to raise awareness of the need for more businesses to be able to offer such programmes. Only by working together will we find sustainable solutions to the challenge of youth employment,” Mackey added.