A YouGov poll suggests that apprentices act as the foundation for many small businesses, with three quarters of senior decision makers at UK small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) believing that apprentices are necessary for the future success of their company.
The 600 employers polled have called on the government to ensure young people have balanced careers guidance available to them, to make sure they are aware of all the benefits that an apprenticeship can bring.
The findings are backed up by research by Albion Ventures, one of the largest independent venture capital investors in the UK, which found that roughly one in four SMEs (23%) are looking to develop apprentice schemes to fill the skills gap.
Emran Mian, Albion Ventures’ director of social market foundation, said it’s crucial that small businesses are provided with the necessary resources to begin to addresses the skills deficit.
“While it is a welcome boost that apprenticeships are becoming increasingly popular, it is imperative that we actively look to help those businesses, whose growth is being held back by a dearth of key skills, take the next step,” Mian elaborated.
The report also suggests that apprentices not only offer a financial incentive to employers but a greater social benefit too, with nearly half (44%) of firms believing apprentice schemes to be a chance to highlight their corporate social responsibility credentials by investing in the local community.
Patrick Reeve, managing partner at Albion Ventures, suggested that the government should be looking for ways to make the creation of apprentice schemes easier for all small businesses.
“If we want UK SMEs to continue to drive the UK economy forward, we need to ensure that they have all the tools that they require to succeed,” he added.