General Election and Employment: Apprenticeships

In our latest ‘General Election 2024 Insights’ news article, we consider the value of apprentices to SMEs.

Political Party Commitments

As all political parties continue with their campaigning for the July 4 General Election, we are hearing about how each one is committing to apprenticeships, should they win.  The Conservatives, for instance, have pledged 100,000 more apprenticeships by 2029, and The Labour Party is committing to giving businesses more flexibility over how they spend government funding by allowing them to use up to 50% of the money to fund either apprenticeships or to train existing staff.

History of Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships have been around for years, and in the early nineties, the Apprenticeships Act of 1994 was introduced to bring in a standardised framework for this type of employment (although apprenticeships, in some form, had been around for many decades prior).

Benefits of Apprenticeships for SMEs

Did you know that apprenticeships can be an effective business tool for overcoming recruitment challenges and building top talent from within? We know, through our own research, that SMEs continue to struggle with.

In our most recent SME Business Survey 2023/24, 47% of business owners reported recruitment as one of the top three business challenges for 2024 due to a competitive job market.  Another key priority also identified was to focus on employee capability and talent (49%).

Employing apprentices can be a fantastic asset to your business as they bring many benefits to the organisation.  For example:

  • They provide a pipeline of fresh talent that can be moulded to fit your company’s specific needs. It’s like growing your own skilled workforce.
  • They contribute to a more diverse and inclusive workplace by offering opportunities to individuals who might not have pursued a traditional academic path. This diversity can bring different perspectives and creative solutions to your team. Plus, it means that you are able to tap into a broader pool of talent.
  • They can enhance employee loyalty because apprentices who have been nurtured within the company often feel a strong sense of loyalty and commitment. Investing in their development, means that you gain dedicated and skilled employees.
  • In turn, an engaged and motivated employee will be more productive therefore contributing to the business productivity and efficiency
  • There are financial incentives and support from the government for hiring apprentices to help offset the costs of training. Government support can help offset the costs of training and development, making it a cost-effective way to build a skilled workforce.
  • Employing apprentices can have a positive impact on your employer brand locally and nationally.

Insights on Apprenticeships

In one of our recent webinars, in which we discussed apprentices (Apprentices – a solution to your recruitment challenges), we asked several questions to gain an understanding from business owners and HR practitioners about how SMEs employ apprentices. This is what we found.

What is your business’ biggest challenge when it comes to talent?

We wanted to know what the biggest challenge was for finding talent in their business.  By far the largest response was the ability to recruit talent, with 37% of attendees citing this.

Do you currently employ apprentices?

We wanted to know how many businesses were currently employing apprentices and found that just 24% were doing so, however 40% were considering doing so in 2024.

Do you think apprentices could help with your recruitment challenges?

We asked this question at the end of our webinar and found that 61% believed that by employing apprentices, it would help the business overcome their recruitment challenges.

 If you didn’t currently employ apprentices, would you consider employing apprentices in the future?

At the start of the webinar, 37% said they were currently not employing apprentices, but when asked at the end if they would consider doing so in the future, 24% said they would.

If you are not planning to employ apprentices in the future, what do you think would stop you from doing so?

Those who didn’t feel they would consider employing said that was either because of the time to administer the scheme (63%) or that the business was not big enough (13%).

We’re Here to Help

If you want to find out more about apprenticeship schemes and how to introduce them into your business, or if you wish to explore other strategic initiatives that can help in addressing recruitment, retention or skill capability challenges, then contact us on 0844 324 5840, or send us an online enquiry by clicking here.




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