Small firms could deliver a million apprenticeships

A new report has found the small business sector in England has the potential to double the number of apprentices they take on to well over two million, if incentives and support improve.

The report, by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), highlights that small firms are critical to achieving the government’s target of reaching three million new apprentices by 2020.

‘Make or Break: Getting apprenticeship reform right for small businesses’ found that 24 per cent of FSB members already employ an apprentice, but a further quarter 24 per cent would consider taking one on in the future.

If this is reflected throughout England’s 4.7 million small firms, there is potential to deliver well over a million new apprenticeships with smaller employers.

FSB’s evidence found that small businesses are most likely to recruit apprentices from outside the business, with 79 per cent of FSB members’ recruiting externally.

FSB also found that apprenticeships in two thirds of small business lead to longer-term employment once training is complete. These finding show smaller businesses are providing a reliable pathway into full time employment for their apprentices.

Mike Cherry, FSB national chairman, said: “We are at a make-or-break moment. We need the government to hit the right balance between incentives and support. While many small firms are committed to apprenticeships, many more continue to be worried about the time and personal commitment required.

“Ministers need to focus on three main areas: more targeted and localised information for businesses with high growth potential, specific and practical guidance on how a smaller company can take on an apprentice, and a more generous package of incentives and support for those which do. Getting this right is key to the successful reform of the apprenticeship system.”

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