The rising popularity of Apprenticeships: What can they offer the SME Market?

posted by 5 years ago in News

The popularity of apprenticeships has increased considerably over the past five years, even more so now that there are so many different and diverse roles you can pursue, whether that is engineering, health and social care, IT and business skills or even media and photography. Traditionally people would think of apprenticeships as training for more of a trade, such as plumbing or building but now there is something for everyone.

The Government recently set out its agenda, aiming to ambitiously create three million apprenticeships by 2020.  With only one in three SMEs currently offering apprenticeships, there’s a long way to go to educate businesses on the value an apprentice can provide. With this lofty target in mind, Skills Minister Nick Boles plans to make apprenticeships more appealing to both business and young adults by levelling the playing field and having apprenticeships recognised as equal to degrees. He also plans to change the reputation that apprenticeships may have. He wants employers and employees to see them as an equal in the academic world.

Meanwhile, George Osborne has promised to use a proportion of the money cut from the welfare budget towards creating the three million apprenticeships. However, the announcement made in the summer budget has been met with worry with many raising concerns that the available information on exactly how the Chancellor will levy large businesses to fund the additional apprenticeships is too vague.

So what are the benefits for SME’s?

  • Enthusiastic young people willing to learn on the job, with fresh eyes and ideas.
  • It’s relatively inexpensive, for an extra pair of hands
  • Creates loyalty
  • Gives something back

For the apprentice, there are valuable qualifications that can be gained through working and learning on the job. Benefits include actual work experience, developing social skills in a working environment, and a new level of understanding for a working environment. Also, recent stats have shown that University students could be left with £53,000 worth of debt, as a grant becomes a loan. Whereas no financial commitment is required as an apprentice.

I have recently taken on an apprenticeship with The Juice Academy, a social media and digital marketing course created by Tangerine PR. The apprenticeship involves IT, marketing, social media, mobile social media and so much more. It is a great opportunity as the average age for apprenticeships is 16-24, the biggest generation on social media.

Personally I think apprenticeships are a step in the right direction, as an apprentice for an SME I am delighted to hear that changes are being made, working for any business from the early age of 16 can seem very hard and scary but I think with an apprenticeship you are slowly introduced into the work life and provided with a valuable education and skills on the job, which not only benefits the apprentice but also the business.

The merchant bank Close Brothers are extremely keen to help fund apprenticeships by becoming partners with the University of Sheffield AMRC Training Centre and the MTA (Manufacturing Technologies Associations). Through this, partnership they will help pay for 3 sets of 20 apprentices for local SMEs. This new programme will fund the apprentices’ wage for half of the first year and a quarter of the second.