Apprenticeships have enjoyed a fair share of the limelight so far this year. Not only did March’s National Apprenticeship Week take place soon after the increase in the apprentice wage rate and forthcoming introduction of the apprenticeship levy, but also in the wake of the Government announcing its aim to fund some three million new apprenticeships by 2020, which the levy will help to fund. There’s been a positive start on that front, with participation in apprenticeship schemes up to a record 871,000 during the 2014/15 tax year.
But if apprenticeships are going to hit such heady heights in the future, they are undoubtedly going to need the support of small and medium-sized enterprises, who make up well in excess of 99% of all UK businesses. Many of those companies are already realising the benefits of having apprentices on board, with our latest research showing that two in five (39%) of those SMEs with at least ten employees in place took on at least one new apprentice in the past twelve months. That figure falls, however, to just one in ten (10%) of companies that have less than ten employees, demonstrating how those smallest businesses may have greater time and resource constraints when it comes to introducing an effective apprenticeship scheme.