A large proportion of UK employers are showing a preference for recruiting apprentices instead of graduates, Fresh Business Thinking reported recently, citing a survey conducted on behalf of totaljobs.com and the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR). According to the poll results, 48% of respondents reported such a shift, partly attributing it to the difficulty companies experience in filling entry-level positions.
The survey established that 57% of employers faced challenges in securing the right people for entry-level jobs. According to 34% of the sample, the biggest problem was the shortage of technical ability and that was most acutely felt in the areas of IT, manufacturing and R&D. Employers also complained that graduate recruits lacked soft skills and work experience, with 32% and 31% respectively including those among their key issues.
Apprenticeships were cited by 27% as critical for tackling the skills shortage. In addition, 25% of respondents said they wanted business skills taught in schools and 18% called for more work-oriented degrees.
Totaljobs.com graduate director Mike Fetters noted that government grants had encouraged more employers to take on apprentices, making it possible to address the specific skill needs of the enterprise. Many survey participants said that their graduate applicants did not come up to expectations. Meanwhile, employers looking for people with STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills reported a shortage of graduates with relevant degrees. Considering all the issues mentioned, it does not seem surprising that apprentices have become the preferred option for many employers, allowing them to shape the talent they need, Fetters said.