Get In Go Far: Government launches new apprenticeship push for SMEs

23 February 2017 -


Small and medium-sized businesses are expected to recruit 202,000 new apprentices over the next 12 months

Matt Scott

The government has launched the next stage of its Get In Go Far apprenticeships campaign, aimed at promoting apprenticeships to British employers and boosting the number of UK SMEs hiring apprentices.

Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Robert Halfon said: “We know that apprenticeships give people of all ages and all backgrounds a ladder of opportunity to get the skills they need. That is why more than 90% of apprentices stay in employment after their scheme ends.

“It’s fantastic to see that so many SMEs are taking advantage of the programme, ensuring they get the workforce they need but we must do more to encourage SMEs to come on board and hire more apprentices.”

Research supporting the campaign found that more than 24,000 apprentice-employing SMEs in the private sector reported that hiring an apprentice has actually helped them win business and three in four experienced an uplift in productivity.

CMI director of strategy Petra Wilton said apprenticeships could provide important leadership skills to help organisations make a success of their business – something vital for the ongoing competitiveness of UK Plc.

“SMEs must invest in higher level apprenticeships to develop talent to boost their productivity and competitiveness,” she said. “Nearly half of businesses fail in their first three years, and according to data from the Insolvency Service the key reason for the majority (56%) of these failures is bad management.

“The Government’s new apprenticeship funding offers a key route to addressing this, with SMEs able to claim back 90% of the costs of apprenticeships, and micro businesses can receive full funding. Small businesses have been actively involved in the development of the new management and leadership trailblazers, and some are already beginning to use these new apprenticeships to upskill existing managers, as well as to help identify new talent.”

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Wilton warned, however, that more still needs to be done to raise awareness of the benefits apprenticeships can offer British business.

“Far too few owner managers are aware of how apprenticeships can provide the high level, professional skills needed for growth, so we need to do far more to make this exciting new offer accessible to smaller businesses,” she said.

The launch of the campaign follows on from news that the number of young people not currently working or receiving training or education has fallen over the last year,

New government data has revealed that there were 826,000 young people (aged 16 to 24) in the UK who were not in education, employment or training (NEET) between October and December 2016, a decrease of 31,000 from July to September 2016 and down 36,000 from a year earlier.

The percentage of all young people in the UK who were NEET was 11.5%, down 0.4 percentage points from July to September 2016 and down 0.4 percentage points from a year earlier.

“Today's figures are promising but there is still clearly a long way to go to significantly decrease the number of NEETs,” Wilton said. “According to our own research with the EY Foundation, a third of current 16 – 21 year-olds in the UK aren’t confident of finding a job in the next few years.

“With the skills shortage persisting, the productivity gap showing no signs of abating, and youth unemployment continually above the national average, it is clear that decisive action is needed to help solve these problems.

“The Apprenticeship Levy coming into force this year, along with the launch of new degree apprenticeships, means the UK’s education and training landscape is transforming. The impetus is now on businesses to act.”

“Apprenticeships are a proven route of raising productivity and helping plug the skills gap,” she added. “Businesses that focus their efforts on offering work-based learning and improving employability will reap the benefit of a more talented and productive workforce.

“They will also go some way to helping solve the UK’s long-standing youth unemployment problem.”

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